UCSB Downs Rival Cal Poly 3-1
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UCSB inked another chapter in the Blue Green Rivalry with a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly on Saturday night. The Gauchos not only put up back-to-back wins, but they also extend their winning streak over their rival to four matches, dating back to the 2011 season.
The Gauchos move their season record to 7-8 and 2-1 in the Big West, while the Mustangs drop to 8-8 overall, 2-1 in conference play.
"Every win is very important to us," UCSB Head Coach Nicole Lantana Welch said. "Cal Poly has been playing at a very high level so we knew they were going to come in here and present a challenge for us. Seeing the team execute like we did tonight was extremely rewarding."
Ali Spindt reached a career-high with 17 kills to lead the floor. She was followed by Katey Thompson and Ali Barbeau who recorded 16 and 12 kills, respectively.
UCSB also outperformed Cal Poly at the net, as they put up 24 total blocks compared to the Mustangs' 13. Allie Sullberg paced UCSB with six block assists, while Phoebe Grunt and Thompson each had five total blocks.
After a narrow loss in the first set 26-24, UCSB answered back by topping Cal Poly 25-22 in the second. The Gauchos, though, would have to overcome the Mustangs' lead which they held for the majority of the set.
Though trailing, UCSB always managed to stay in close contention, as it never let the deficit grow beyond three points.
In order to keep the set close, the Gauchos looked to their bench for an offensive support and it was Jaylen Villanueva who stepped up to the challenge.
With the Mustangs ahead 5-4, the sophomore opposite rattled off two consecutive kills to give UCSB its first lead of the game.
The sophomore finished with nine kills on the night, which is her highest total since UCSB's 2012 season opener against Iona when she recorded 12.
Later in the set the Gauchos trailed at 15-13, and Spindt put her team back on track with her third kill of the set, triggering a three-point run for the Gauchos.
After nabbing the one-point advantage, UCSB traded points with the Mustangs until the teams battled to a 20-20 tie. From there, the Gauchos officially took control of the set with four straight points to get to set point. In the stretch, Spindt and Barbeau both contributed a kill, while Thompson dealt two service aces.
An attacking error would give UCSB the set win, tying the match overall 1-1.
After two closely contested sets, the Gauchos put on a dominant 25-16 performance in the third.
UCSB never let the Mustangs threaten its lead, as Cal Poly was behind the entire game and trailed by as many as nine points.
With the score favoring the Gauchos at 13-8, another kill from Spindt rallied UCSB together for four straight points. Spindt had another kill to cap off the run, while Thompson contributed one of her three kills of the set.
After falling in two straight sets, Cal Poly tried to play the Gauchos tight in the fourth from the opening serve.
The Mustangs took an early lead and held on to it until the score moved to 19 all. As she did last week against UC Irvine, Thompson came up in a crucial moment for the Gauchos by breaking the tie with a booming kill, and giving Santa Barbara a 21-19 lead with another.
"We know that we have to have a aggressive mentality to win," Thompson said. "And that's the approach I took going into those last points."
UCSB never looked back from that point and Villanueva found the match-winning kill to end the game 25-21.
The Gauchos will take their win streak on the road when they visit nationally ranked Hawai'i next Saturday.
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