Four UCSB senior starters using extra year of eligibility, returning for 2021 season

Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbara athletics

UC Santa Barbara is reloaded for a national championship run in 2021.

All-American seniors Casey McGarry, Randy DeWeese, Keenan Sanders and Roy McFarland will return to the Gauchos next season, assistant coach Blaine Nielsen said last week in a video message to UC Santa Barbara fans.

The NCAA opted to grant seniors playing spring sports like men’s volleyball an additional year of eligibility after the seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gauchos at the time the NCAA canceled the season were ranked No. 3 in both the national coaches poll and national media poll. In addition, UC Santa Barbara was on an eight match winning streak and had just won its Big West opener.

McGarry guided the offense to the fifth-best attack percentage in the nation at .333. In addition, the finalist for the Karch Kiraly Award as the nation’s best setter was fourth in the nation with a 10.59 assists per game average and sixth in the country averaging 2.48 digs per game.

DeWeese, who transitioned in the offseason from a setter to pin-hitter, finished in the nation’s top 15 with a 3.70 kills per game average. He also had at least 15 kills in seven matches, including a season-high 22 kills in a victory against UCLA in March.

Sanders was second in the nation with a .521 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in four matches. The middle attacker led the Gauchos and was in the nation’s top 15 averaging 1.05 blocks per game.

McFarland was among the team leaders averaging both 2.48 kills per game and 1.58 digs per game.

UC Santa Barbara will enter next season attempting to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. The Gauchos in their program history have reached the NCAA Tournament finals five times but have never won the national championship.