SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Despite bursts of dominance and strong performances from their top players, the Gauchos were unable to find victory against No. 23 Pepperdine on Wednesday night, falling by a score of 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 27-25, 25-17).
With the defeat - their fifth in their last six matches - UCSB falls to 8-10 overall and 1-2 in the Big West.
"The girls played hard tonight," said Head Coach Kathy Gregory postgame. "We just didn't get production when we needed it."
In their last non-conference match of the regular season, UCSB's marquee players stood out. Junior outside hitter Leah Sully and junior opposite Katey Thompson co-led the match with 17 kills. Both players recorded double-doubles as well: Sully finishing with 13 digs and Thompson with 10.
Freshman libero Taylor Formico had yet another match to remember, picking up 28 digs to give her exactly 400 digs for the season. Formico is on the verge of overtaking the UCSB freshman dig record, currently held by Kelly Hennan, who recorded 413 digs as a freshman in 2010.
The match began with Pepperdine asserting their blocking prowess. With UCSB up 6-5, the Waves forced the Gauchos into five consecutive attacking errors. Pepperdine's Alyssa Mason played a part in three consecutive blocks that put her squad up 10-7 and snatched away any momentum from the Gauchos.
The Gauchos made it interesting at the end of the game by scoring five consecutive points before surrendering the set, and they carried that momentum into the next game despite falling behind in the match.
UCSB came out firing on all cylinders in the second - storming out to an 18-6 lead - mostly on the strength of an Ali Santi service run that saw the Gauchos claim nine straight points. Sully was the driving force in the game, picking up six kills. Junior middle blocker Jenna Wilson had five of her seven blocks in the first two games.
A tight third game featuring nine ties and five lead changes ended in heartbreak for the Gauchos. Going tit-for-tat all the way up to 25-25, Pepperdine was able to rally off a pair of back-to-back kills down the line.
Pepperdine claimed the fourth game easily to improve their record to 11-6 on the season.
The Waves were led by Jazmine Orozco and Kellie Woolever, who put up twin lines of 12 kills and 18 digs. Woolever, Pepperdine's setter, terrorized the Gauchos with the "dump" play all night, most notably by scoring the winning kill in the first game to halt a UCSB comeback. Santa Barbara native Taylor Racich contributed 11 kills and 14 digs.
UCSB's season long three-match homestand continues this weekend, when they play host to Cal State Northridge on Friday, Oct. 5, and Hawai'i on Saturday, Oct. 6. Both matches will commence at 7 p.m. Tickets for those matches - and all matches this season - can be purchased at the UCSB online ticket portal.