The UC Santa Barbara women’s volleyball team went 1-1 on their weekend road trip from Oct. 27-28, surrendering their first Big West loss to the UC Irvine Anteaters only to bounce back the next day with a dominant sweep of the California State University, Fullerton Titans.
On Oct. 27, the Gauchos faced off against the Anteaters for the second time in the season, resulting in a disappointing loss for the Gauchos. In their first matchup, UCSB crushed UCI in 3 blow-out sets but, during their second match, Irvine looked like a completely different team, stepping up and putting pressure on the nationally ranked Gauchos.
Despite UCSB taking an early lead in the first set, UCI battled back and scored when it mattered most. With the help of a late 5-straight service run and a faltering Gaucho defense, the Anteaters came out on top with a final score of 25-19. Shaking off the rough start, UCSB fought back in the second set with a nail-biting victory of 25-23. The following two sets did not go the way the Gauchos anticipated, uncharacteristically unable to deliver late, dropping both with scores of 26-24 and 25-22. UCI had no quit, out-killing the Gauchos 62-48 with hitting percentages of 0.223 to 0.192.
Returning to the winning they have become accustomed to, the Gauchos did not carry any negative energy into the next day, raking up their 11th sweep of the season against the struggling Titans. Head Coach Matt Jones applauded their next day bounceback after the victory as a “clean, resilient win.”
UCSB was commanding from the start with a 3-0 run to open the first set, never looking back as they won 25-18. Gaining dominance as the match went on, UCSB began the second set with a 5-0 run thanks to 2 aces by junior setter Grace McIntosh. The Titans attempted to make a comeback to make up for their early set mistakes but couldn’t catch the Gauchos, coming up short 25-22. The third set saw the Gauchos’ offense at its finest, posting a .333 hitting percentage with 4 service aces, crushing the Titans 25-16. Not once did the Gauchos play from behind, maintaining the lead throughout all three sets.
Several players stood out with successful weekend outings. Senior outside hitter Michelle Ohwobete was a bright spot for the Gauchos, leading her team in kills in both matches — a combined 30 kills and 18 digs throughout the weekend. Senior libero Macall Peed also played well, collecting 10 digs against Irvine and following it up the next day with 18 digs and 2 aces at Fullerton. Sophomore middle blocker Grace Wuischpard was especially impressive against the Titans, hitting .385 with 6 kills and 3 blocks.
The Gauchos ended the weekend sitting atop the Big West with their 11-1 record in conference play and 21-3 overall. The Gauchos look toward their next match against California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo before flying to Hawaii for their final road game of the season. UCSB beat both teams in their previous conference matchups, looking to keep it going in their second face-offs of the season. UCSB aims to sweep SLO on Oct. 31, with streaming available on ESPN+.