Purdue Fort Wayne to travel to CSUN, UCSB in January

Photo courtesy of Purdue Fort Wayne Athletics/Aaron Suozzi

Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor

Purdue Fort Wayne will travel to CSUN and UC Santa Barbara has part of its non-conference schedule in 2020. These matches are the return trips of a home-and-home series that the Mastodons hosted last year.

The Mastodons will travel to CSUN first on Jan. 15 and then head over to UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 17.

The Gauchos lead the all-time series with the Mastodons 19-3 and have won all eight matches in Santa Barbara.

Purdue Fort Wayne lost seven seniors to graduation from last year’s team, including starting opposite Colton Stone, starting setter Michael Keegan, and libero Kolbie Knorr. Stone led the Mastadons with 36 aces, while Keegan led the team with a 9.31 assists per game average, and Knorr led the team with a 1.88 digs per game average. Stone was named to the 2019 MIVA All-Tournament Team, while Keegan was named to the All-MIVA First Team.

Seven players are returning to Fort Wayne including outside attacker Pelegrin Vargas, and middle attackers Tomas Gago and Richie Diedrich. Vargas led the team with a 3.83 kills per game average, while Diedrich led the team with a 1.01 blocks per game average. Vargas was named to the All-MIVA First Team, while Diedrich was named to the second team.

Purdue Fort Wayne finished the 2019 season with a 17-12 record (8-6 MIVA). After finishing third in the regular season, the Mastodons swept Lindenwood in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals then lost to Loyola in the semifinals in four games.

UC Santa Barbara looked primed for most of last season to be at-large invitee to the NCAA Tournament until it lost seven of the final 10 matches. The Gauchos ended with a 18-10 record (4-6 Big West) in 2019.

The Gauchos will have to replace two players named to the All-American Second Team, outside attacker Corey Chavers and libero Hayden Boehle. Chavers led the Gauchos with 3.46 kills per game, while Boehle led the team with 108 sets played and a 2.46 digs per game average (fifth nationally).

Highlighting the players returning for UC Santa Barbara is outside attacker Ryan Wilcox. Wilcox was named Big West Freshman of the Year in addition to receiving All-American Honorable Mention honors.

Both teams were regulars in the AVCA poll last year. The Mastodons were ranked in all but one poll, while UC Santa Barbara made it to as high as No. 3 in the nation last year.

One of the biggest loses for Purdue Fort Wayne came during the summer when former assistant JW Kieckhefer left Purdue Fort Wayne to become the new head coach at Carthage.

UC Santa Barbara will also have coaching holes to fill as both associate coaches, Cullen Irons, and Vince Devany are no longer with the program. Irons is now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma women’s volleyball program.

Purdue Fort Wayne will play 11 non-conference matches, with six of those being on the road. Five of the non-conference matches will be against EIVA foes, while two each will be against Independent teams and Big West teams. The Mastodons will play a match that has yet to be scheduled in Puerto Rico during Spring Break.

The Mastodons will open the 2020 campaign with a pair of home matches – versus Queens and Belmont Abbey – on the second weekend of January.

2020 Purdue Fort Wayne Schedule

Friday, Jan 10, 2020 vs. Queens
Saturday, Jan 11, 2020 vs. Belmont Abbey
Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020 at CSUN
Friday, Jan 17, 2020 at UC Santa Barbara
Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at NJIT
Saturday, Jan 25, 2020 at George Mason
Friday, Feb 7, 2020 vs. Urbana
Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 at Loyola
Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at Lindenwood
Saturday, Feb 15, 2020 at Quincy
Friday, Feb 21, 2020 vs. Ball State
Saturday, Feb 22, 2020 vs. Ohio State
Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 vs. Lewis
Saturday, Feb 29, 2020 vs. McKendree
Thursday, March 5, 2020 vs. Loyola
Friday, March 6, 2020 vs. Sacred Heart
Thursday, March 19, 2020 at Saint Francis
Saturday, March 21, 2020 at Penn State
Thursday, March 26, 2020 at McKendree
Saturday, March 28, 2020 at Lewis
Friday, April 3, 2020 vs. Quincy
Saturday, April 4, 2020 vs. Lindenwood
Thursday, April 9, 2020 at Ohio State
Saturday, April 11, 2020 at Ball State