Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
Haven’t seen a Pepperdine or UC Santa Barbara match this season — not to worry.
Check out the 15 players to know and watch for as the Waves and Gauchos play in the NCAA Tournament opening round tonight.
1. Casey McGarry, UC Santa Barbara
The first-team All-American setter is second in the nation with a 10.87 assists per game average. The Gauchos, who rank No. 4 nationally with 10.37 digs per game, are led by McGarry’s team-best 2.19 digs per game. McGarry had five double-double matches this year (double-digit assists and digs), including a 40 assist, 10 dig performance in the Big West Tournament final.
2. Randy DeWeese, UC Santa Barbara
The first-team All-American was named the AVCA Player of the Week on March 9 after leading the Gauchos to four straight wins to open the season. In those matches, DeWeese had 59 kills on a .361 attack percentage to go along with six aces, nine blocks, and 26 digs. DeWeese’s 3.96 kills per game, 4.65 points per game, and 9.24 attacks per game lead the team.
3. Austin Wilmot, Pepperdine
The second-team All-American had the top attack percentage of all eligible players (must average 3.3 attacks per game) in the MPSF with a .431 attack percentage, while his 1.074 blocks per game ranks No. 2 in the MPSF. Wilmot was named AVCA Player of the Week on March 16 after he averaged a team-best 3.00 points per game while hitting .500 (17-3-28). He posted 14 blocks in nine games, a 1.56 average, in the two-match split with UCLA.
4. Spencer Wickens, Pepperdine
The second-team All-American leads the Waves with 3.22 kills per game and a 1.71 digs per game. He was named AVCA player of the week on March 30 after he averaged 3.82 kills per game in three wins over No. 9 Grand Canyon. Wickens had 13 matches with at least ten kills, including a career-best 23 kills to go along with 13 digs in the opening match of the season.
5. Ryan Wilcox, UC Santa Barbara
The Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player had 28 kills, 14 digs, and six total blocks in two matches en route the tournament title. The AVCA All-American honorable mention selection had eight matches with at least eight digs and ten matches with at least ten kills. He registered one double-double this year, a 10-kill, 18-dig performance against Long Beach State on March 20.
6. Bryce Dvorak, Pepperdine
The AVCA newcomer of the year led the Waves to a .306 attack percentage, good for No. 9 nationally. The freshman setter leads the team with 9.15 assists per game and 21 aces. He registered one double-double this year with 47 assists and 17 digs in a five-game win over Grand Canyon on March 27.
7. Keenan Sanders, UC Santa Barbara
The second-team All-American middle attacker ranks No. 5 nationally with a .460 attack percentage. He also leads the team with 56 total blocks. Sanders opened the season with 28 kills on 37 errorless swings in a pair of wins over UC San Diego. His seven total blocks in the Big West Tournament final with a season high for Sanders.
8. Jacob Steele, Pepperdine
The All-MPSF Honorable Mention opposite leads Pepperdine with 3.74 points per game and 6.49 attacks per game. Steele had at least nine points in each of his 18 matches this year, highlighted by a 20.5 point performance at BYU on February 8.
9. Roy McFarland, UC Santa Barbara
The second-team All-American outside attacker spent the last four matches of the season battling injuries. He came off the bench to lead UC Santa Barbara to a come-from-behind win over Long Beach State in the Big West semifinals. He ranks either second or third on the team in all major offensive statistical category, highlighted by his .312 attack percentage.
10. Noah Dyer, Pepperdine
Statistics don’t always tell the full story of a player’s value to his team. The best way to quantify the calming presence the former libero has on the Waves is to look at Pepperdine’s first match at BYU this year where the Waves garnered only six points in the first game without him.
11. Trey Cole, Pepperdine
The MPSF All-Freshman libero averaged 1.63 digs per game in 18 matches this year, good for second-best on the team. He was also named Off the Block Freshman of the Week in his week of collegiate action when he tallied a match-high 18 digs in Waves’ opening match of the season.
12. Ryan Pecsok, UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara leads the Big West and ranks No. 4 with 10.37 digs per game. Pecsok had 29 combined digs in eight games in the Big West Tournament.
13. Anderson Fuller, Pepperdine
The freshman middle attacker played in all 19 matches for the Waves. His 48 blocks rank second on the team. He had 12 kills on 18 attempts in the first two rounds of the MPSF Tournament.
14. Donovan Todorov, UC Santa Barbara
After not playing in the first seven matches of the season, the freshman middle attacker started all 13 matches he played in. He had a .468 attack percentage and 50 blocks for the year.
15. Joe Karlous, Pepperdine
The Pepperdine backup setter had 77 assists and 16 digs in 13 matches. His best performance this year was a four-game victory at Stanford, where he had 35 assists off the beach.