The UCSB women’s volleyball team won both of its games this weekend with 3-1 wins over both UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton at home.
With their two wins this weekend, the Gauchos jump to fourth in the division with a 7-5 Big West and 12-11 overall record. With its win over Cal Poly making it a 1-1 split weekend, Irvine falls behind UCSB to claim the fifth spot with a 6-5 Big West and 16-10 overall record. Cal State Fullerton dropped both matches in the week to end its trip 1-10 in league and 7-17 overall.
In their much-anticipated rematch against UC Irvine, the Gauchos emerged victorious on Saturday in a 3-1 match. UCSB took the first two sets 25-23 and 25-16, and dropped the third set to the Anteaters 25-15. The Gauchos then came back to end it in the fourth set 25-17.
“I’m very pleased with the way we’ve responded and I think that large part of that is that we are really taking to heart some ways to be successful against our opponent from start to finish,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “I thought in those three sets we won we used our heads as much as our physicality.”
The Gaucho defense held strong against Irvine big-hitter redshirt-junior outside hitter Marisa Bubica, as the team held her to 16 kills in 47 total attempts and a .170 hitting percentage. In addition, the Gauchos had 20 block attempts compared to Irvine’s 14 and had eight more total digs.
Leading the Gaucho defense were sophomore outside hitter Ali Spindt along with sophomore middle blocker Allie Sullberg and redshirt-freshman middle blocker Kristen Berlo. Spindt had 17 total digs, while maintaining her spot on the league leaderboard at second in digs per set, averaging 4.32. Sullberg put up not only five kills, but also the team’s only two solo blocks of the game. Berlo also put up a team-high seven block assists.
“I think all the hitters were on and all wanted the ball, so it was nice to have all options available,” senior setter Ali Santi said. “The passing was really good so we were able to set all three options on every ball.”
Leading the offense was junior outside hitter Ali Barbeau who had 14 kills and only three errors while swinging for a .367 average hitting percentage. Junior opposite Jaylen Villanueva also hit for 14 kills and scored a team-high 18.5 points for the Gauchos.
“Last time we played them I had a rough serving match so I wanted to take it to them this time,” Villanueva said. “Coach wanted us to go really aggressive and wanted us to attack certain people, so I went for it.”
On Friday, UCSB dropped only one set to Fullerton to win the match 3-1. The Gauchos won the first set 25-20, but fell to the Titans in the second 25-22. UCSB then came out after the half to win two strait sets 25-15.
The Gauchos held the Fullerton to a .095 team average hitting percentage, and freshman outside hitter/middle blocker Niki Withers — the player with the third best kills per set average in the league — to a negative kill percentage with 12 kills of 41 total attempts and 14 errors.
All-around players in the game on Friday were Berlo and junior opposite Britton Taylor. Berlo had five bock assists, as well as 10 kills and 12.5 points. Taylor also put up four block assists and nine kills while scoring 13 points. Barbeau also had 10 kills and scored 13 points for the Gauchos.
Coming out strong for the Titans was junior middle blocker Holland Crenshaw, who swung for 11 kills, had a .500 hitting percentage and only one error. She also put up one block assist and 11.5 points.
“I think [going 2-0] was a critical point for us, a hump for us to get over to be sharp and crisp to face two quality opponents on back-to-back nights,” Lantagne Welch said. “We did that, we took care of it, and now we can use that for momentum going forward.”
The Gauchos will be on the road again next weekend to face Cal State Northridge on Friday and Long Beach State on Saturday.