San Diego, Caif.— Facing two of the top-10 teams in the nation on Saturday, UCSB fell to both USC (3-1) and San Diego (3-0) in concluding the USD Tournament. Despite the losses, Katey Thompson was voted to the all-tournament team for her offensive play.
Thompson led the Gauchos overall with 39 kills and finished the tournament with a solid .392 kill percentage. At the net, the senior opposite also added six total blocks. Her marquee outing in San Diego came during UCSB's tournament debut when she paced the floor with 12 kills and three service aces in a 3-0 route over Eastern Washington.
UCSB took the first set, but the Women of Troy bounced back to take a 3-1 match victory to open the second day of the USD Tournament. Thompson, for the second time in the tournament, compiled the most kills for the Gauchos with 17. Leah Sully finished behind her fellow senior with 10 and also added 17 digs, recording her fifth double-double of the season.
Phoebe Grunt had a career outing with her match-high 11 block assists. It is the first time the freshman has reached double-digits in blocks this season.
The Gauchos were able to take the first set after they used a five-point run to snap the 10-10 tie. Breaking the tie was Grunt and Ali Spindt who combined to block a kill attempt from Ebony Nwanebu.
After that, UCSB's attackers took control. Thompson buried a kill, while Sully followed that play with a kill of her own and service ace to give the Gauchos the 15-10 lead.
The Women of Troy made it interesting later in the set and cut the deficit to one at 20-19. Coming through again for UCSB was Thompson who delivered two kills to create separation, while Ali Spindt finished the job with back-to-back kills to put the first set away.
USC went on to take the next two sets, but the Gauchos put up a fight in the fourth. The squads battled each other to a 23-23 score before a USC ball handling error gave UCSB set point.
USC called a timeout to regroup and reported back onto the floor with a set tying kill from Nwanebu. From there, UCSB committed two untimely attack errors to finish the match, just coming up short in forcing a fifth set.
With their match against USD, the Gauchos were facing the top kills team in the country. The Toreros hit .382 collectively in a 3-0 win over UCSB to conclude the USD Tournament.
Ali Barbeau and Thompson led the Gaucho attacking effort with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. UCSB also put up the most total blocks in the match at 10, with Grunt's five block assists pacing the team.
In the second set, the Toreros went up 23-14, but would have their set point opportunities delayed after a feverish 5-1 run by UCSB. Sully had a kill and a service ace to help start the run, while Thompson added two kills of her own. It would not be enough, as San Diego was able to win the second off a service error.
The Gauchos kept close with USD in the third set. After being down 20-16, Barbeau put UCSB back on track with a pair of kills. In the end, though, a four-point run by the Toreros would end the set and the match.
The Gauchos will look to jump back into the win column next week at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz. UCSB will open tournament play against Wofford this Friday at 4:30 p.m.