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The UCSB women’s volleyball team has now dropped two straight games, losing two crucial road games this weekend. The Gauchos lost in three sets to Hawaii on Thursday before falling to Cal State Northridge 3-1 Saturday.
Santa Barbara falls to sixth place in the Big West at 13-14 overall and 6-6 in conference. Before Thursday’s game, the Gauchos were in second. Instead, Hawaii improved to 20-2 overall and 13-0 in the Big West, and Northridge improved to 18-8 and 9-5 in league.
The Matadors went into this week looking to take second place from Santa Barbara, but the UCSB offense came out strong in the first set for a 25-18 win. With the score knotted up 12-12, Santa Barbara put away eight of the next 11 points to jump in front and win the set. As a team, the Gauchos hit .213 in set one to take the 1-0 lead.
“The first game against Northridge was one of our best games of the year,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We kept them to hitting zero and our defense was great.”
In the second set, the Matadors fell to an early 7-3 deficit but recovered with two four-point streaks to take the lead. Once up 12-13, CSUN did not relinquish the lead the rest of the set. In that set, the Gauchos made eight errors and hit just .065.
“[Northridge] just picked up on what we were doing and changed how they were playing us,” junior opposite Katey Thompson said. “We didn’t alter our offense after they changed and figured us out.”
The following two sets were dominated by Northridge. In sets three and four, the Matadors hit .429 and .314, respectively, and recorded 17 kills as a team in the third set. Freshman middle blocker Cieana Stinson and junior outside hitter Mahina Haina led the Northridge offense with 13 kills apiece.
For the Gauchos, junior outside hitter Leah Sully was the bright spot on the night as she recorded 22 kills, 15 digs and a .281 hitting percentage. Freshman libero Taylor Formico anchored the defense with 26 digs, bringing her within 25 digs from setting the UCSB single-season record.
On Thursday night, UCSB was crushed by Hawaii on the road. They were defeated in three sets for the second time this season, falling 25-8, 25-19 and 25-18.
“I was so disappointed in the Hawaii performance,” Gregory said. “It was very sad to go all the way [there] and after already playing poorly against them the first time, we had no sense of urgency.”
The game was a thorough defeat, as the Gauchos hit .086 as a team. No player recorded double-digit kills, and Sully led the team with just 11 digs.
The next game for Santa Barbara will be against Pacific at home next Friday.