SANTA BARBARA, Calif.– UCSB triumphed at the Cal Molten Classic with two thrilling five set victories over Nevada and New Mexico State, giving Nicole Lantagne Welch her first wins as the Gauchos' new head coach. Outside hitters Ali Barbeau and Leah Sully were named to the all-tournament teams for their big roles in UCSB's tournament.
Sully recorded a double-double in both of UCSB's tournament matches for a total of 29 kills and 28 digs. Barbeau earned the All-Cal Molten Classic accolade with her outstanding play off the bench. The sophomore contributed with 17 kills, the second-most for Barbeau over a two game span.
Making her season debut at the tournament, opposite Katey Thompson was the Gauchos' kills leader in both matches, finishing the day with 33.
The Gauchos improve to 2-1 on the season, while the Wolf Pack and the Aggies drop to 0-3 and 1-2, respectively.
UCSB will continue play next week when they head down to Malibu to compete in the Pepperdine Invitational.
Match One – UCSB triumphed in their match against Nevada with three gauchos reaching double-digit kill figures. Leah Sully nabbed her first double-double of the young season with 13 kills and 11 digs. Katey Thompson, in her season debut, led UCSB with both 16 kills and 15 digs. Completing the attacking trio, Britton Taylor swung an efficient .458 kill percentage for 13 kills. Hanna Nielson paced the floor with 51 assists.
The Gauchos' lead in the first set was in danger when Nevada trailed 16-15. Back to back UCSB kills from Ali Spindt and Thompson, respectively, gave the Gauchos their initial separation in a 9-4 run, winning the first set 25-21.
The teams switched roles in the second set, as the Wolf Pack were the victors in a tightly contested set ending in a 25-22 decision.
The pivotal third set was decided by a late UCSB run. The Wolf Pack challenged the Gauchos to a 18-18 score, that's when Katey Thompson took over. The senior opposite dealt three service aces on five serves to keep Nevada out of reach. UCSB used a 7-2 run to win the set and gain the 2-1 advantage.
With as competitive as the first four sets were, the Wolf Pack their edge and gave up eight points to the Gauchos off their service and attack errors. UCSB's kills leaders took care of the rest. Taylor and Thompson recorded a pair of kills each in the fifth, while Sully chimed in with one that started a four-point run for UCSB.
After the hard earned victory, the Gauchos wouldn't get a chance to celebrate as their next match was only three and half hours away.
Match Two – The Gauchos took New Mexico State down to the wire in the decisive fifth set, topping the Aggies 15-13 to seal the victory.
The senior duo of Leah Sully and Katey Thompson led the attacking game, as they swung for 16 and 17 kills, respectively. The Gauchos showed their vigor on defense with four players reaching double-digit dig figures.
After dropping the first set 25-22, UCSB battled back in the second and third to take the 2-1 lead.
In the second, the Gauchos found themselves down 10-6 early. The Aggies dictated the pace of the set, but costly errors gave UCSB its opportunity for a comeback. After UCSB tied the score at 17, the Aggies committed six errors over the next 11 plays. The Gauchos took advantage and Ali Spindt and Thompson sealed the set with a kill each during that stretch.
The third showed both teams going on three and four point runs, but UCSB was able to maintain a lead after breaking the 18-18 tie. Ali Barbeau had the tiebreaking kill and added an ace to help UCSB pull away and earn the third set victory.
New Mexico State picked up momentum with a decisive 25-17 win in the fourth set and carried it over to the fifth as they roared out to a quick 7-2 lead. That's when Sully fired off two consecutive kills which started a run that brought the Gauchos back within one at 7-6.
UCSB soon held the advantage at 14-13 and Ali Barbeau thundered home the final kill to give the Gauchos the victory. Santa Barbara defeated the Aggies and swept their tournament play.