The UCSB women’s volleyball team came into this past weekend with loads of confidence, despite the fact that they were playing the No. 12 team in the nation in Hawaii. However, the Gauchos were unable to hold on to a 2-1 lead, dropping the final two sets on the way to their first loss since late September.
“It was a really good match; it was two very good teams going head-to-head,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “Sometimes things bounce your way a little bit more. The last two sets we lost by just a few points, so we were right in there.”
The loss snaps the Gauchos’ eight-match winning streak, their longest since 2005, and puts them just one loss behind first place Cal State Northridge at 13-9 overall and 8-2 in the Big West. Hawaii improved its chances of staying in the Big West title race with the win and is now at 20-4 overall and 9-3 in the conference.
“This loss really fires us up for the remainder of conference,” senior opposite Katey Thompson said. “This will be in the back of our minds, and now we’re just going to want to crush everyone.”
The match did not get off to an ideal start for UCSB, who needed an early timeout after falling behind 9-4 in the first set. After the timeout, Santa Barbara looked like the dominant team its been the past six weeks, taking the lead thanks to an 11-3 run.
Both teams traded points the rest of the way until freshman outside hitter Ali Spindt ended it with a kill, making it 25-22 and giving the Gauchos a 1-0 lead.
Hawaii dominated the second set, winning it 25-15, but neither team was able to take control for the rest of the match. In a tight third set, both teams traded points on the way to a 23-23 tie. UCSB finally broke away on the last two points thanks to a kill from sophomore outside hitter Ali Barbeau and a tremendous service ace from Thompson, giving them a 2-1 lead.
In a heartbreaking fourth set, a run of five straight points gave the Gauchos a 17-15 lead and put them on the verge of upsetting the Rainbow Wahine for the second time this season. Hawaii answered back with four straight points however, and held on to win the set 25-22.
“I felt like we gave them a lot of early free points,” Lantagne Welch said. “But we played very well from about six points in to the rest of the way and put ourselves in a position to win it.”
UCSB began the fifth and final set poorly, falling behind 7-4. However, three straight blocks by freshman middle blocker Allie Sullberg evened the game at 7-7. However, the effort wouldn’t be enough, eventually losing 15-12.
The Rainbow Wahine were led on offense by the combination of Hartong and senior setter Mita Uiato. Hartong picked up 24 kills and 10 digs on the night while Uiato had 45 assists.
UCSB’s next match is at UC Davis this Thursday.
A version of this article appeared on page six of November 12th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Eric Swenson of the Daily Nexus.