SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Gauchos made their USD Tournament debut in sweeping fashion with a 3-0 rout over Eastern Washington at the Jenny Craig Pavillion on Friday night. UCSB won in very convincingly with its 25-12, 25-18, and 25-16 set victories. Santa Barbara's record now stands at 3-4 on the season, while the Eagles drop to 3-6.
The match featured the Gauchos at their best on offense, as the team collectively hit for a season-high .310 kill percentage. Katey Thompson —in her first match since Aug. 31— led UCSB with her astounding .500 kill percentage making way to her match-high 12 kills. In three matches this season, the senior has averaged 15 kills.
Behind her was outside hitter Ali Spindt with 10 kills of her own off an efficient .381 mark. The freshman has now reached double-digit kill figures in three-straight matches.
In the first set, the Eagles kept close with UCSB with an 8-7 score. That's when the Gauchos made their first break, as they rattled off a 7-1 run to go up 14-8. The seniors Thompson and Sully led the way during that stretch with a pair of kills each. Sully also followed up a kill with one of UCSB's five service aces.
The Gauchos coasted the rest of the way and ended the set with five unanswered points—three off kills— for the 25-12 win.
Eastern Washington found an offensive rhythm midway through the second and only trailed UCSB 14-12. As they did in the previous set, the Gauchos kept the Eagles behind with eight straight points. This time, middle blocker Phoebe Grunt got UCSB on the roll with a kill, assited by Hanna Nielson. Nielson paced the floor with 17 assists.
Four attacking errors aided in the Gaucho offensive surge, while Allie Sullberg added two kills of her own during the stretch.
At set point, Sullberg's number was called again as she delivered the final blow to down Eastern Washington 25-18.
UCSB found itself down 9-8 in the third, but were able to gain their first lead of the set with three consecutive kills from its senior stars. Thompson bookended the 3-0 run, but Sully would go on to seal the win for UCSB with a match point kill.
The Gauchos will look to continue their winning ways in the tournament tomorrow when they face two of the top-10 teams in the nation: No. 1 USC at noon, followed by, the host, No. 9 San Diego at 7:30 p.m.