The UCSB women’s volleyball team concluded its season-high, four-game losing streak with a sweep of Cal Poly Saturday night. With the win over the rival Mustangs (1-14, 0-3 Big West), Santa Barbara (8-9, 1-2 Big West) captured its first win in conference play, sweeping all three sets 25-20, 25-17, 25-20.
“The biggest thing is we came in with a better mindset to Cal Poly because it is a difficult place to play,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We know they want to win, too. They haven’t had a win [in conference], and they have been playing everybody tight, so we understood the importance.”
The first set was kept close until the end. Tied 20-20, UCSB scored five consecutive points — the last three on Cal Poly errors — to take the first set.
“The first game, we were kind of shaky; we didn’t have the same intensity as we had the second and third game, which is totally normal for adjusting for a different gym and playing on the road,” junior opposite Katey Thompson said. “Once we got our heads on straight, we were good to go.”
In the second set, the Gauchos took charge midway and never eased up. With the Mustangs up 9-8, Santa Barbara went on an eight-point run to jump to a 16-9 lead. The game was then controlled by UCSB, leading to a final score of 25-17.
The third set was again dictated by the Gauchos. Behind 7-9, five consecutive scores put Santa Barbara ahead of the Mustangs, who never saw the lead again.
“The third game probably was our best game offensively,” Gregory said. “We did shut down their two best hitters. We could still play better, but we did what we had to do.”
Cal Poly junior outside hitters Holly Franks and Chelsea Hardin each had nine kills to lead the Mustangs, but it was the play by Santa Barbara’s Thompson Saturday night that really impressed.
“I was just trying to be consistent, as I have the last couple matches,” Thompson said. “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything different.”
With 15 kills, three service aces and just one error against the Mustangs, Thompson led UCSB to victory. It was sophomore setter Ali Santi, though, who recorded 30 assists, setting up Thompson, junior outside hitter Leah Sully and freshman middle blocker Britton Taylor, who recorded 15, eight and seven kills respectively.
“[Santi] was really good distributing the ball this weekend,” Thompson said. “She was making sure we got a lot of one-on-ones so the hitter was able to put the ball away.”