Gauchos Clinch First Win of the Weekend Against Hawaii

Austin Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Austin Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No. 7 Santa Barbara returned home this week to grab a four-set victory against no. 8 Hawaii (25-15, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18). It was the first match of the weekend and against the Rainbow Warriors, and the Gauchos proved to overcome injuries and adapt to a new lineup.  

UCSB showed impressive numbers with standout performances from senior outside hitter Austin Kingi (13 kills, six digs) and senior right side hitter Matt Marsh (12 kills).

"Covering and getting more digs allowed our hitters to swing more aggressively" said Kingi.

Freshman middle blocker Henri Cherry gave the Gauchos the consistency they needed hitting at a .714 clip and putting up nine total blocks.  

The Gauchos came out of the gate strong to take the first set 25-15. It was a game at the front line with the Gauchos totaling 11 team blocks. Cherry quickly stood out in all aspects of his game with 3 kills on 5 sets, an ace to close the match, and 6 blocks. The Gauchos established themselves early on to take the lead and an ace by Matt Marsh forced a Hawaii timeout at 15-10. Two consecutive kills by Kingi secured the Gauchos win. 

The intensity of the match escalated in the second set while Hawaii sought revenge for the first set Gaucho victory. Hawaii took control of the match early on as their lead climbed to 18-14. Their offense was led by freshman opposite hitter Stijn van Tilburg and junior outside hitter Kupono Fey who finished the set with 6 and 5 kills a piece. However, the Gauchos held on and back to back kills by Marsh gave the Gauchos momentum to make it a close game at 25-23. 

With the two teams tied at one win a piece, the third set began as a hard fought battle. Kingi took the match as his own as he both opened and closed the game with kills. With a powerful and smart offense and 11 free points off of Hawaii missed serves, the Gauchos finished with a 25-18 victory.  

The two teams fought point for point with consistent serves and long rallies in the fourth set, but Kingi's continued hot streak allowed the Gauchos to take the set 25-18. At 17-14, Cherry went on a four point service run and a dominating, momentous kill by senior middle blocker Ryan Hardy secured the lead for the Gauchos and let them walk away with the match. 

Santa Barbara and Hawaii will face off for the second night in a row tomorrow evening at 7PM in Rob Gym.