For the fourth time in their last five meetings, UCSB and Cal Poly women’s volleyball took five sets to decide a winner, with the Mustangs prevailing 3-2 last night.
“We were too inconsistent tonight,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “I am disappointed with the start of the match. … If you’re not ready to play, the other team looks better.”
The Gauchos fall to 11-8 overall and 4-2 in the Big West, but are still tied for first place with UC Davis and Long Beach State. Cal Poly (8-11, 3-3 Big West) is in sixth place but remains undefeated at home this season.
In the first set, the Mustangs got out to a fast start with an early six point run that turned a 6-5 lead into a 12-5 lead. Cal Poly increased their lead to 22-13 before scoring the final three points and closing out the set with a dominant 25-13 win.
“That first game was the worst we’ve ever played,” Gregory said. “You cannot take a whole game to get ready. … You can’t get behind that much.”
Fortunately for the Gauchos, the second set was almost the opposite. Tied at 12, a kill by senior right side Stacey Schmidt sparked a five-point run for a 17-12 lead. Moments later, another four-point run put Santa Barbara up 22-14 en route to a 25-17 set win, the first time Cal Poly dropped a set at home this season.
With the match tied at 1-1, Cal Poly used another big run to take control of the third set. Senior middle blocker Lily Lopez’s kill finally stopped a nine-point run that put the Mustangs up from 8-6 to 17-6. UCSB was unable to get any closer than 18-12 and lost the set 25-16.
Santa Barbara was able to win the fourth set 31-29. The Gauchos’ biggest lead was 18-14, but Cal Poly came back and took a 20-19 lead. From that point, neither team led by more than one until UCSB scored the final three points of the set.
“Our main goal was just to keep fighting and swinging to put the ball away,” senior libero Chelsey Lowe said. “We had some great rallies that we were able to win.”
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, Cal Poly jumped out to another quick 7-2 lead in the final set. Then UCSB subbed in sophomore middle blocker Katey Thompson and made yet another rally for a 10-9 lead, but the Mustangs regained the lead at 13-12. At match point, Cal Poly’s sophomore outside hitter Kristina Graven got her 18th kill to give the Mustangs the upset win.
“We have to give them credit,” Lowe said. “They played well and at the end of the fifth and were able to put the ball away at crucial times.”
Santa Barbara’s slow starts plagued them throughout and ended up proving costly in the end.
“We had too many unforced errors,” Gregory said. “When you go on the road you have to be more consistent and we were not consistent on offense.”