FORT COLLINS, Colo. – After facing a pair of nationally recognized teams to start the 2014 season, UC Santa Barbara dropped both of its matches during the first day of the Rams Volleyball Classic.
Marquette and No. 18 Colorado State downed UCSB in 3-0 decisions, as both teams finished Saturday's matches with perfect 2-0 records.
Though she played exclusively at outside hitter as a freshman, Ali Spindt made her first appearance at libero and finished with 24 total digs on the day. In 2013, Spindt finished second on the UCSB roster with 328 scoops and registered the most double-doubles on the team with 13.
UCSB opened up the new season with the Golden Eagles, who made it to the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament. Marquette was able to take the early 4-0 lead after three Gaucho attack errors, but Allie Sullberg put UCSB on track with her first kill of the match to put her team on the board.
Opposite Jaylen Villanueva followed Sullberg's lead and rattled off two kills of her own to make the score 4-3. Including those kills, Villanueva accounted for four straight UCSB points before Marquette took an 8-5 lead. Overall, the junior led the Gauchos with eight kills, while Ali Barbeau followed her with six.
After being held to 10 points in the first, UCSB tallied 16 and 17 points in the second and third games, respectively.
In their second match of the tournament, the Gauchos took on the host Rams who were coming off a sweep over Virginia Commonwealth earlier in the day.
Looking to shake off its loss to the Golden Eagles, UCSB came out with an aggressive attack against Colorado State and took a 10-8 lead to start the first set. The Gaucho middle blockers feasted on quick sets from Hanna Nielson and Ali Santi, as they racked up 8 kills in the first set alone. Making her second consecutive start at the net was Britton Taylor who looked good early on, as she registered back-to-back kills to give Santa Barbara a 7-5 advantage.
Taylor finished the match with a team-leading 10 kills, while fellow middle blockers Allie Sullberg and Phoebe Grunt tallied five and three kills, respectively.
While UCSB kept the score close in the first, the Rams made their break with consecutive kills to go up 22-20. Facing game point, Ali Barbeau kept UCSB alive with a forceful kill that ricocheted into the stands off a wall of Ram blockers.
Colorado State, however, was able to wrap up the first with a kill from Kelsey Snider to end it at 25-23.
In the second set, the Rams took a commanding 19-9 lead after UCSB could not find a rhythm on defense. However, the Gauchos refused to go down easy, as Taylor recorded consecutive kills to put her team back within single digits. Barbeau finished off the set strong with three kills of her own, but the Rams' lead proved too much as they took the second with a 25-18 final score.
Colorado State finished the match with a 25-15 decision in game three, as the team was able to maintain the momentum it found earlier in the second set.
The Gauchos will look to earn their first win of the season on Sunday when they will face Virginia Commonwealth in their final game of the tournament.
Live Stats for the match can be found here at UCSBgauchos.com.