Playing at home against UC Riverside (8-18, 3-11) on Senior Night, UCSB (17-10, 8-6) dropped the final two sets to the Highlanders, losing 3-2 and ending its five-match winning streak.
The Gauchos we're outstanding in the middle, enjoying a 17-7 advantage in blocks for the night, but it was not enough to overcome a resilient Riverside team that had four players reach double-digit kills.
The Gauchos began the first game comfortably in control, jumping out to a 16-10 lead after a kill by Allen. After answering back with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to just one point, the Highlanders demonstrated early on that this would not be an easy match for the home side.
Riverside went on a 4-1 run late in the set to pull within one once more at 24-23, but it could not survive a second straight set point as Allen put away her third kill of the opening game to give the Gauchos a 25-23 win.
The Highlanders would surprise UCSB with a 6-1 run midway through the second set, capitalizing on four straight Gaucho errors to take a 19-12 lead. Soon after, the Gauchos would answer with a 6-1 run of their own, cutting the lead to 21-19. Unable to take control of the momentum at the end of the set, UCSB was outscored 4-2 over the final six points, falling 25-21 after a kill by UCR's Chelsea Doyle.
UCSB seemed to take complete control of the match in a dominant third set, hitting at a .400 clip compared to just -.172 for the Highlanders. The Gauchos went on both a 6-0 run and a 7-0 run midway through the set, taking a commanding 21-6 advantage. Allen would eventually pick up her second game-ending kill, giving her team a 25-9 win.
With a 15-11 lead in the fourth set, UCSB seemed primed to earn its second straight 3-1 victory this weekend. However, the Highlanders would shock the home side, going on a 6-0 run to take control of the set before a Gaucho attacking error eventually gave Riverside a 25-21 win, tying the match at 2-2.
In the fifth and final set, the Highlanders jumped out to a 9-5 lead. The Gauchos would answer back with four straight points, capped off by consecutive blocks by Grunt, to tie it at 9-9. Riverside would end the set strong on a 4-1 run though, using a Cristina Maietta kill to take a 15-11 victory. Maietta finished the night with a match-high 17 kills to go along with 14 digs.
UCSB was held to just four service aces on the night, its lowest total in its last nine outings. The Highlanders also enjoyed a 72-63 advantage in digs.
Hannah Juley had a match-high 47 assists to go along with six digs, while Riverside's Chelsea Doyle was the second Highlander to record a double-double on the night with 39 assists and 14 digs.
Prior to the match, Sheffield and Grunt were both honored for Senior Night.
The Gauchos will return to the road next Saturday for their final road match of the season against No. 14 Hawai'i.