Not even a little momentum could help the UCSB women’s volleyball team topple the Big West’s top squad this weekend.

Cal Poly, ranked #20, showed why it sits atop the conference standings, defeating the Gauchos (11-8 overall, 3-3 Big West) 17-30, 22-30 and 27-30 to sweep the season series. The win was the Mustangs’ (14-4 overall, 6-0 Big West) second straight victory over Santa Barbara in Mott Gym, and the match drew the biggest Cal Poly crowd in 17 years.

“Cal Poly is as good as any team we’ve played,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “They are capable of beating anyone because they are well-balanced.”

With the first set knotted at 11, the Mustangs took off on a 19-6 run to win with ease 30-17. Cal Poly out-hit the Gauchos .419 to -.028 in the opening frame. The Mustangs grabbed an early lead in game two en route to a 30-22 win, but Santa Barbara put up a fight with its back to the wall.

Santa Barbara held a slim lead for most of the third game, but Cal Poly battled back to tie the score at 25 and then tallied three points in a row to take the lead for good, ultimately winning 30-27. The Mustangs hit just under .300 on the night while UCSB struggled offensively, hitting just .063 for the match. Cal Poly won the battle of the block 15 to 4.5.

“We struggled because of the breakdown of the left side hitting,” Gregory said. “Basically, we didn’t execute the way that we needed to. We are a team that has to have balance, but they have a good block and we couldn’t adjust to it.”

Sophomore outside hitters Kylie Atherstone and Alicia Waller paced the Mustang offense as each tallied a double-double on the night. Senior middle blocker and reigning Big West Player of the Week Olivia Waldowski was the only Gaucho to reach double-digit kills, with 11 total, and led the squad in hitting at a .381 clip.

With the victory, the Mustangs extend their winning streak at Mott Gym to nine, as they have yet to lose a game in any of their four home matches this season. Cal Poly is off to its second-best conference start in school history, and can equal that mark with a win at Pacific this Thursday.

The loss halts Santa Barbara’s winning streak at four matches. This week, the squad hits the road to play against Cal State Northridge and Pacific. While the hope of defending their conference title is fading fast, the Gauchos still have a shot at a NCAA tournament at large berth with solid play down the stretch.

“We have a sense of urgency with the next few games on the road, and we can’t have any more losses outside of the top three in the Big West,” Gregory said.

Six games into the conference season, the Gauchos have lost three of their matches, compared to last season’s total of two Big West losses. The squad sits tied for fourth in the conference, but all three losses have come against the league’s top three teams.

“Our league is pretty good and I think there is a good possibility that three or four teams could go [to the NCAA tournament],” Gregory said. “Now we need to beat teams like Northridge and Pacific and try to get as many wins as we can.”