The UCSB women’s volleyball team might have lost 3-1 to Cal Poly on Friday night, but it made sure to take the Mustangs to their limit.
Playing the No. 23 team in the nation in their own house, the Gauchos had one of their best games offensively of the whole season. Cal Poly won by margins of two, four and two, respectively.
The match’s final results were 27-25, 27-29, 25-21, 25-23. Cal Poly had just three more kills than UCSB.
The Gauchos, now 6-17 overall and 5-6 in Big West play, came out hot to start Friday’s match. UCSB led 19-15 late in the first set, but the Mustangs (22-2, 12-0) snatched what would have been a crucial victory away with a 12-6 run, winning the set 27-25 in extra points.
Stung by the painful first-set defeat, the Gauchos flew out of the gate again in the second set with an 8-1 run. Cal Poly once again battled back, closing the gap at 17-17 and later took a 24-21 lead with a chance to win the set and likely control the match.
Three straight Gaucho points staved off a potential second set loss, however, and another three-point run a little later was capped off with a Lindsey Ruddins kill that allowed UCSB to knot the score at 1-1.
Ruddins, as usual, was the Gauchos’ leading attacker. The sophomore outside hitter posted 26 kills, and added nine digs and four blocks to balance out her statline.
The final two sets of the matchup were about as tight as the first two. They just didn’t happen to work in UCSB’s favor either time.
The Gauchos held a late 19-18 lead after seesawing back and forth with the Mustangs for most of the third set, but that was as good as it got for Santa Barbara.
Cal Poly took the next five points in a row, mostly on attack errors by UCSB, and finally won the set 25-21 to crack open a 2-1 lead in the match.
That third set was the Gauchos’ worst offensively. They hit a match-low .189 for 14 kills. Their late errors were what allowed Cal Poly to surge late, a disappointing result for UCSB after leading for most of the set.
Oddly enough, the fourth set looked remarkably similar to the first and third sets. Just as in those earlier periods, the Mustangs won on the strength of a scoring stretch after the Gauchos started hot.
This time around, UCSB didn’t trail until a Raeann Greisen kill gave Cal Poly a 15-14 lead. Once the Mustangs had the lead, they didn’t give it back up.
A five-point run pushed the hosts out to a 23-16 lead, large enough to sweat out the Gauchos’ 7-2 run to close out the set and take the match.
The fourth set was UCSB’s best on the attack, as they hit .289 and posted 16 kills. Cal Poly just happened to be better, with a hitting percentage of .366 and 19 kills.
Sophomore middle blocker Charlie Robinson was second on UCSB with 12 kills, her best attacking effort since the team’s Sept. 29 match against CSUN. Robinson’s five total blocks was a team-best, just ahead of freshman middle blocker Nicole Omwanghe and Annie Hasselmann.
Hasselmann, as UCSB’s setter, had one of her best games of the season. The junior had 54 assists and nine digs to go with her four total blocks.
Four different Mustangs finished with more than ten kills, a balanced attack that UCSB was simply unable to overcome.
Torrey Van Winden was the leader with 20 kills, but her sister Adlee was close behind with 13 of her own, giving the family a very strong night on the attack.
UCSB returns home this coming weekend with two games in the Thunderdome at 7 pm, the first against UC Irvine on Friday and the second against UC Davis on Saturday for Senior Night.