September 28, 2013

Gauchos Fall Short to Long Beach State in Five Set Thriller

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara opened up their conference schedule with a thrilling five set match against Long Beach State on Friday night in the Thunderdome. UCSB made a hard fought comeback to tie the fifth set at 13 all, but would fall just short in the 15-13 decision.

UCSB's record moves to 5-8 on the season, and 0-1 in conference. Long Beach State is now 8-6 overall, and 1-0 in Big West play.

Katey Thompson had a big night for the Gauchos, as she led the floor with 23 kills. Ali Spindt and Ali Barbeau also reached double-digit kills figures, recording 16 and 13 respectively.

Leah Sully made her start as a libero for the first time this season and recorded a team-high 20 digs. Spindt posted 14 digs of her own, marking her third career double-double.

The Gauchos took control of the match early on with a 25-22 first set victory. In the set, UCSB found themselves trailing 10-6, but Thompson threw down her first kill of the night to spark a 4-0 Gaucho run, tying the score 10-10.

Later in the first, UCSB received timely support from its bench, as Jaylen Villanueva made back-to-back kills to break a 16-16 tie. From then on, the Gauchos never gave up their lead. Spindt played a pivotal role in closing the set with the four kills she made to follow Villanueva's.

The 49ers responded to UCSB's 25-22 victory by winning the second set by the same score. Both sets were indicative of the competitiveness of the match, but the third game would prove to be even closer.

In the third set, neither team held a lead more than three points over the other. With Long Beach State up by a narrow 20-18 margin, Phoebe Grunt floated a service ace to keep the Gauchos well in contention. Eventually, UCSB tied the match at 23 off a Spindt kill, and it was Grunt who made the tie-breaking block to give UCSB set point. A 49er attacking error then proved to be all the Gauchos needed to top Long Beach State in the third and take the 2-1 overall lead.

The fifth set maintained the same intense level of competition between the two teams, culminating in the tight 15-13 finish. Spindt and Barbeau led the Gauchos in the game with three kills each.

With the set tied at 11, the teams would find their remaining points from kills, as Long Beach State narrowly edged UCSB on a 4-2 run.

The Gauchos will continue their three game homes stand tomorrow night when they host UC Irvine in the Thunderdome at 7 p.m.

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