The Gauchos conference season got off to a disappointing start on Friday night, as they fell to rival UC Irvine in four games, 3-1 (25-14, 19-25, 25-23, 28-26).
The Gauchos, losers of three straight, are in the midst of their worst losing streak of the season. Their overall record now sits at 7-8, their first time under .500 this season.
The UC Irvine Anteaters improved their record to 6-8.
Freshman libero Taylor Formico set a record for most 30+ dig matches by a Gaucho in a single season on Friday night with her career-high 37-dig performance. It was the fifth time this season that Taylor has had 30 or more digs.
Formico previously shared the record with Kristin Nelson, who accomplished the feat four times in 2004.
The loss will sting a bit more for the Gauchos knowing that they twice had game-point during the decisive fourth frame.
Up 24-23, UCSB's Kara Sherrard had an attack blocked at the net by Marissa Alvarez and Shannon Fleming. Sherrard rebounded to on the next play by recording a kill to give the Gauchos their second chance at clinching the game, however UCI's Marisa Bubica came right back on the next play with a kill to tie the score.
After exchanging serve for a few more points, UCI's Marissa Alvarez ended the match with a service ace that eluded Leah Sully's outstretched arms. Sully, despite the receiving error, turned in a solid 14-kill, 20-dig performance. She leads the squad with 11 double-doubles.
Junior opposite Katey Thompson turned in a strong performance as well for UCSB, accruing 11 digs and a career-high 20 kills on her way to her third straight and fifth overall double-double.
However, the Gauchos were outclassed in every major team statistic. UCSB was outblocked 12.0 to 5 and outhit .267 to .214. In addition, the Gauchos' strong passing game eluded them, as they surrendered six aces while only recording a pair themselves.
UCSB will look to get their first conference win tomorrow night, when they take on Long Beach St. at the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.
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