The UCSB women’s volleyball team, with a two-game winning streak on the line, was unable to keep the victories coming, falling in three games to Pepperdine 30-27, 30-25, 30-20. With the loss, the Gauchos drop to 5-8 against nonconference opponents.
Despite a great hitting performance by senior middle blocker Brett Quirarte, who finished the night with a team-high 14 kills on a sparkling .370 hitting percentage, the Gauchos (9-15 overall) hit at just a .162 clip. Pepperdine (14-7 overall), on the other hand, hit a dominating .317. The loss ends just UCSB’s third multi-game win streak of the year as the Gauchos inch closer to the first losing season in school history.
Game one presented Santa Barbara with its best opportunity, with the game consisting of nine ties and five lead changes. With the game tied at 17, the Waves went on a 6-1 run, creating a lead that the Gauchos could never overcome, with Pepperdine’s sophomore setter Kiah Fiers solidifying the game with an ace for the last point.
“In game one, we competed, we made a good run and came back,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “After that, we were unable to compete. They dominated us on offense, and if we’re going to beat a team like this on the road, we are going to have to have more weapons.”
After taking game one Pepperdine did not look back, increasing their hitting percentage in each of the following games. Carried by outside hitter Julie Rubenstein’s 19 kills and Fiers’ game-high 43 assists, the Waves’ offense pounded the UCSB front line with an unrelentingly efficient attack, with no player who recorded a kill hitting under a .250 clip.
In game two the Waves jumped out early, starting with a 7-2 run that included three Rubenstein kills. After the Pepperdine run the Gauchos were unable to cut the lead to fewer than three for the rest of the game, dropping game two 30-25. In game three the Gauchos fell victim to another Pepperdine point streak, as the Waves finished game three and the match with a 10-2 run.
Despite being out-hit by Pepperdine, UCSB out-blocked the Waves 9-5 with both freshman middle blocker Kasey Kipp and senior middle blocker Lauren Smith leading the way with five block assists each. Sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno rebounded from her game-four ankle injury Saturday versus Pacific, and contributed 11 kills for the Gauchos on what was an overall disappointing night.