Gauchos Outlast UC Riverside in Five Games

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The Gauchos battled back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the UC Riverside Highlanders in five games on Friday night, 3-2 (25-23, 16-25, 25-27, 25-23, 15-11).

With the win, UCSB snapped a four match losing streak and improved their overall record to 14-16. The Gauchos' conference record improved to 7-8.

UC Riverside, who won a conference match for the first time last week, fell to 7-22, 1-14.

The victory represented just the second time this season that the Gauchos were able to win when being outhit by the opposition. The Highlanders hit .136 for the match, while UCSB was held to a .127 clip.

Once again, the Gauchos were led by junior outside hitter Leah Sully, who picked up her 12th double-double out of her last 13 matches. The Irvine, Calif. native had team-highs in kills (23) and aces (2) to spark her team to victory. Leah was especially effective in the first game, when she put down seven kills to put the Gauchos up 1-0.

UC Riverside would storm back to take the next two games, putting themselves on the verge of their second conference win of the season. Ashley Cox led the way for the Highlanders, recording a match-high 29 kills.

Tied 9-9 in the fifth game, Kara Sherrard's serving keyed the Gauchos to a decisive 6-2 run. Sherrard had 12 kills and seven digs on the night. Sully had a pair of kills during the run, including the match-clincher.

Freshman libero Taylor Formico had 20 digs in the victory, giving her 703 digs on the season - a UCSB and Big West record.

The Gauchos will look to keep it rolling tomorrow night, when they take on Cal State Fullerton. Earlier this season, the Gauchos lost a heartbreaking five-set match to the Titans in which Taylor Formico set a UCSB record 41 digs and Fullerton's Kayla Neto had 35 kills.