FULLERTON, Calif.– For the first time this season, UCSB is tied for first place in the Big West after sweeping Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night. The Gauchos had a complete game in the victory as they held the Titans' kill percentage to just .296, compared to their .341 mark.
UCSB has now played every Big West team once and has gone 7-1 in conference play. The team has now pieced together their longest winning streak against Big West opponents since 2005 with seven consecutive victories.
"It was a big win for us to finish the first round of the conference," Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "Our team came to play tonight and withstood an excellent defensive team."
Ali Barbeau connected for 18 kills off her .455 hitting percentage, leading the match in both categories. Following the sophomore was Ali Spindt with 15 kills and Katey Thompson who checked in with 12.
"We had an extremely efficient night attacking and our setters did a nice job in influencing that," Lantagne Welch said. "Barbeau and Spindt were outstanding on the pins."
Spindt also added 15 digs to her statline, collecting her eighth double-double of the season and her first since Oct. 11.
Leah Sully anchored the Gaucho defense as the libero, and, according to her coach, she "dug up everything she could touch." That's an accurate assessment as Sully set a season-high with 27 digs on the night. It was the fourth time the senior has eclipsed the 20-digs mark in conference play.
The first set was tightly contested, but UCSB managed to hit the 20-point mark first at 20-18. From there, the Gauchos broke away with a four-point run. Katey Thompson led UCSB with a kill and a solo block in that span.
Fullerton responded with back-to-back points, but Thompson would eventually hammer home another kill to close out the set.
In the second game, the squads were still competing neck-and-neck to the 20-point mark when UCSB again held the advantage; this time at 20-19. However, the Titans battled back and went on a 5-3 run to take the 24-23 lead.
The Gauchos needed a big play to stay alive and force extra points, and delivering it was Ali Barbeau who connected with Hanna Nielson for a kill. The outside hitter was not done yet, though, as she went on to break the 25-25 tie by striking the Titan defense with two unanswered kills to win the set.
UCSB kept with the momentum and stormed out to a 7-2 lead to open the third. The Gauchos had three kills and two blocks during the run.
From there, UCSB maintained their lead and coasted to a 25-18 final score. Katey Thompson made the sweep official with her final kill of the night.
The Gauchos will continue their season on the road next Saturday when they take on Cal Poly at Mott Gym. UCSB previously defeated the Mustangs this season 3-1.