SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In Leah Sully's return to the Thunderdome for her first game at home in two years, she showed the UC Santa Barbara home crowd what they'd been missing.
Even before the fourth set, the sophomore Sully was playing some of the best volleyball of her collegiate career.
Then, she played better.
Sully, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, served the first 15 points of the fourth set, including three of her four service aces, as the Gauchos dominated Pacific on Friday night in the Thunderdome, 25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 25-6.
It was UCSB's first home match of the season and the Gauchos improved to 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the Big West. UOP falls to 10-6, 1-2.
Armed with a 15-0 lead in the final set, the Gauchos remained on the throttle and held Pacific to its first-ever single-digit score in a set since rally scoring began in 2001.
Not only was UCSB's serving on par, the team's play at the net was stellar. The Gauchos had 13.0 team blocks led by Stacey Schmidt's three solo blocks. Sully, Lily Lopez and Jenna Wilson also tallied solo blocks. Wilson, in fact, was a force at the net in the final set as she also recorded four block assists.
Sully finished with 17 kills and 18 digs for her 11th double-double of the season.
"Tonight Leah Sully put on a display that I have not seen in 15 years from an outside hitter," said head coach Kathy Gregory, in her 37th season.
Kara Sherrard joined Sully in the double-double club with 14 kills and 11 digs while Schimdt had 11 putdowns and nine digs.
UCSB jumped out to a first game victory because of, who else, Sully. She had seven kills and five digs in the first set as the Gauchos hit .304. As a team UCSB batted .269, its third-best mark this season.
In the third set, UCSB found itself down 16-10, but rallied to pull within 17-14, forcing Pacific into a timeout. Santa Barbara got as close as 23-20 and then 24-22, but couldn't catch the Tigers.
However that momentum carried into Game 4 as Sully gave the Gauchos the enormous advantage and the easy set win.
UCSB will host UC Davis on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by clicking here or calling (805) 893-UCSB.
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