New look UC Santa Barbara rolls past NJIT in season opener

Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbra athletics

Geste Bianchi made the most of their return to the starting lineup.

Bianchi finished with a match-high 21 kills on a .531 attack percentage as No. 15 UC Santa Barbara defeated NJIT 27-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-19 in their season opener on Thursday in Santa Barbara, California.

The junior had at least five kills in three of the four games, including leading the Gauchos with eight kills in the final game of the victory at the Asics Invitational. Bianchi had three kills as part of a 6-1 run midway through fourth game and then later delivered the match-winning kill.

This was the seventh start of Bianchi in three seasons with the Gauchos. Bianchi last season started four matches in January and then came off the bench in two late-season matches as UC Santa Barbara reached the Big West Tournament semifinals.


Setter Jack Walmer guided the UC Santa Barbara offense to out-hit NJIT .440 to .233. The Gauchos had at least a .500 attack percentage in three of the games and committed fewer than three errors in each of those games.

Walmer also had three consecutive aces as part of the Gauchos’ fourth-game run.

UC Santa Barbara finished with 11 aces – four more aces than NJIT. Along with Walmer, Bianchi and serving specialist Dominic Lang had multiple aces.

Bianchi was one of four Gauchos with more than five kills against the Highlanders.

Outside attacker Ben Coordt contributed 11 kills highlighted by the game-winning kill in the first-game overtime. Middle attacker Josh Aruya had eight kills on a .455 attack percentage, while outside attacker George Bruening had eight kills and hit .467.

Aruya also led all players with six blocks. Bianchia added five blocks to help the Gauchos out-block the Highlanders 8.5 to 8.

Both Will Migdal and Josh Gregg in the loss led NJIT with nine kills.

This was the first of three matches that both UC Santa Barbara and NJIT will play at the Asics Invitational. The Asics Invitational is UC Santa Barbara’s annual non-conference tournament that takes place during the opening week of the season.