UC Santa Barbara grinds out win vs. Pepperdine in NCAA opening round

Photo by Vinnie Lopes

Randy DeWeese showed exactly he was named an All-American and voted a finalist for the Bryan Ivie Award as the nation’s top opposite.

DeWeese finished with both a match-high 21 kills on a .317 attack percentage and three aces as the No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara defeated the No. 5 seed Pepperdine 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 28-26 in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.

DeWeese had his final two kills in the fourth-game overtime to help prevent the match from moving to a decisive fifth game. In addition, All-American setter Casey McGarry delivered a match-winning kill on a setter dump that capped off about a 25-second rally to end the six-point overtime session.

McGarry guided the Big West champions to out-hit Pepperdine .336 to .254.

The Gauchos had three players finish with double-digit kills and more than a .300 attack percentage.

Along with DeWeese, outside attacker Roy McFarland had 21 kills while hitting .340 and outside attacker Ryan Wilcox contributed 11 kills on a .333 attack percentage.

DeWeese defensively also led the Gauchos with both 13 digs and five blocks.


Pepperdine similar to the Gauchos had three players double-digit kills, including outside attacker Spencer Wickens who had a team-high 14 kills. Middle attacker Austin Wilmont and opposite Jacob Steele each had 12 kills.

Outside attacker Alex Gettinger who replaced Noah Dyer in the lineup midway through the match also had five kills and a match-high three aces.

The Gauchos hit more than .500 for most of the first and second game and had a combined five errors in those games. However, Pepperdine limited UC Santa Barbara to a .118 attack percentage in the third game and forced the Gauchos to commit a combined 13 errors in the final two games.

Pepperdine in the loss out-blocked UC Santa Barbara 9 to 8.5 with Wilmont having a match-high six blocks.

UC Santa Barbara midway through the fourth game committed four consecutive attack errors to fall behind 20-18 but was able to recover and eventually win in overtime.

Despite trailing early in the third game, Pepperdine went on a 4-0 run and reclaimed the lead at 16-15 with a block from Andersen Fuller and Wickens. The Waves also erased a 22-20 deficit as they went on a 5-0 run with Gettinger serving to take the game.

DeWeese in the second game had an ace as part of an early 5-1 run to give the Gauchos a six-point lead.

The Gauchos led by seven points before the Waves went on a 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 23-21. A kill from Donovan Tordorov and then a Pepperdine service error on UC Santa Barbara’s second game-point opportunity gave the Gauchos a two-game lead.

UC Santa Barbara did not commit an attack through the first 37 points of the opening game and led by as many as five points in a game that it hit .567.

Pepperdine rallied to tie the score at 23-23 following a successful challenge on a touch by coach David Hunt. The Gauchos, though, responded to win the final two points capped off with a game-winning kill from DeWeese.

This is the first NCAA Tournament victory for UC Santa Barbara since it upset the No. 1 overall seed USC in the 2011 NCAA Tournament semifinals.\

UC Santa Barbara will now face another No. 1 overall seed as it plays Hawai’i in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday. It will be the second all-Big West match-up in the NCAA Tournament since 2019.

Pepperdine was making its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and was attempting to win its sixth national championship program history.

The loss continues the streak of the MPSF having never defeated the Big West in the NCAA Tournament since the Big West added men’s volleyball in 2018.