August 24, 2012

UCSB Cruises to Victory in Season Opening Match

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -The Gauchos survived a first-game hiccup en route to a win over the Iona Gaels in their first match of the 2012 season. Dropping the first set 18-25, UCSB would come roaring back to win the final three games in consecutive order to kick-off off the Loyola Marymount Tournament.

With the win, Kathy Gregory improves her record in season openers to 27-6 since 1980. Game scores for the match went 18-25, 28-26, 25-16, 25-19.

The first game was full of zeroes for the Gauchos- an even .000 team hitting percentage and 0 blocks. For Iona, Madisyn Spence led the way with five of her eight overall kills coming in the frame. The Gaels' .243 team hitting percentage for the game was the highest they would record for the match.

UCSB began to warm up in the second game, riding junior outside hitter Leah Sully's seven kill performance to a 28-26 win. Sully got the start to the season that she wanted, recording a double-double with 14 kills and 19 digs. Leah led all players in both kills and aces (3).

Despite Sully's hot streak, it was her fellow junior outside who pushed the Gauchos over the top in the second game. With the score tied 26-26, Kara Sherrard put down a pair of kills on consecutive points to put the game on ice.

The Gauchos would ride that wave of momentum in the final two games, taking them with relative ease and outhitting the Gaels by over .200 points in each set.

There were a number of strong debuts for UCSB. Sherrard was just one dig away from a double-double, finishing with nine to go along with her 10 kills. Freshman libero Taylor Formico led the team with 22 digs, despite muffing a pair of serves.

In the middle, junior Jenna Wilson picked up six kills and led the team with five blocks. Junior Katey Thompson had a strong all around game, finishing with five kills, three aces, six digs and three blocks.

Splitting the setting duties, freshman Jaylen Villanueva had 24 assists while sophomore Ali Santi had 22. Villanueva also picked up 12 kills while playing on the right side.

UCSB will finish up the Loyola Marymount Tournament tomorrow with a pair of matches. In the morning, they will take on Connecticut at 10 AM before finishing up with host Loyola Marymount at 7:30 PM. Both matches can be streamed for free here.

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