2021 Big West Preview: UC Santa Barbara

Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbara athletics

Jonathan Bates / Brandon Johnson

With the first match of 2021 involving Big West teams less than a week away, Off the Block will be previewing each of the conference’s six teams. The Big West finished last year with the best non-conference record of any NCAA Division I/II conference, and currently have five teams ranked in both the AVCA coaches poll and the Off the Block media poll. Today, we preview UC Santa Barbara, who was picked No. 2 in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.

UC Santa Barbara

Final 2020 Poll Rankings: 3/3
2020 Record: 14-2, 1-0 Big West

2020 Team Stats Rankings
● No. 1 nationally in opponent attack percentage (0.178)
● No. 2 nationally in digs per game (10.55 digs per game)
● No. 5 nationally in assists per game (12.27) and kills per game (13.05)


2020 Individual Stats Rankings
● Setter – Casey McGarry – No. 4 nationally with 10.59 assists per game and No. 6 with 2.48 digs per game
● Middle attacker – Keenan Sanders – No. 2 nationally with a .521 attack percentage
● Opposite – Randy DeWeese – No. 10 nationally with 4.62 points per game

2020 Individual Awards
● Setter – Casey McGarry (First Team AVCA All-American)
● Opposite – Randy DeWeese (Second Team AVCA All-American
● Middle attacker – Keenan Sanders (Second-Team All-American)

2021 Preseason All-Americans
● Setter – Casey McGarry (First Team)
● Opposite – Randy DeWeese (Second Team)
● Middle attacker – Keenan Sanders (Second Team)

Lost to graduation
● Opposite – Spencer Fredrick
● Middle attacker – Brandon Hopper
● Middle attacker – Jack Truman
● Libero – Grady Yould*


New incoming players
● Opposite – Rees Barnett
● Outside attacker – Sam Collins
● Middle attacker – Reece Francke
● Libero – Jaden Glenn
Middle attacker – Dain Johnson
● Outside attacker – Dominic Lang
● Outside attacker – Andrew Reavis

Returning starters
● Opposite – Randy DeWeese
● Middle attacker – Brandon Hicks
● Setter – Casey McGarry
● Middle attacker – Keenan Sanders
● Outside attacker – Ryan Wilcox
● Outside attacker – Roy McFarland

Returning Production
● Kills: 96.9 %
● Assists: 94.5%
● Aces: 97.3%
● Digs: 79.5%
● Blocks: 92.1%

Brandon’s Preview and Bold Prediction
Coach Rick McLaughlin seemed to push all the right buttons in the shortened 2020 season. Senior setter Casey McGarry took over the starting spot and put together a strong 2020 season, finishing 4th in the nation in assists per game while also finishing 6th in the country in digs per game. After sharing time at the setting position in his first few years at the school, Randy Deweese made the move to full-time opposite and finished 10th in the country in points per game while earning AVCA All-American Second Team honors. For a team known for their defense and ball control, UC Santa Barbara will need to replace libero Grady Yould if they hope to keep this same identity for the 2021 season. I expect to see Ryan Wilcox take a step forward in his development and challenge for All-American recognition at the outside attacker position this year.