Gauchos Sweep Nevada in Cal Molten Classic Opener

Gauchos Sweep Nevada in Cal Molten Classic Opener

BERKELEY, Calif. – Behind the solid attacking performances of Britton Taylor and Jaylen Villanueva, UCSB opened the Cal Molten Classic with a sweep over Nevada and have extended their winning streak to three matches.

Santa Barbara improves its record to 3-4 overall, while Nevada slides to 3-2.

Leading the way on offense for the Gauchos were opposites Britton Taylor and Jaylen Villanueva who both finished with a match-high 14 kills and with a .414 and .444 hitting percentages, respectively. At the net, Taylor led the team with three block assists while Phoebe Grunt added two of her own. On defense, Ali Spindt led the floor with a season-high 20 scoops and also recorded two kills.

Nevada was led by Tessa Lea'ea's 12 kills, while Kara Kasser tallied 19 digs.

The match started with a tight battle in the first set, as UCSB outlasted the Wolf Pack 25-23. The Gauchos had a three-point lead to start the game at 4-1, but later found themselves down 18-15. However, three Nevada errors coupled with a service ace from Shauna Klein regained UCSB its lead at 19-18. The Wolf Pack did battle back and put themselves within one at 23-22, but the Gauchos proved too much and saw back-to-back kills form Villanueva and Ali Barbeau to clinch the 25-23 first game victory.

UCSB took the second set with a 25-22 margin after prevailing through another tightly contested set. Nevada jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but the Gauchos were quick to respond with a four-point run of their own to get within one. Phoebe Grunt started the rally with a kill, while Chanel Hoffman's solo block and Villanueva's first kill of the set ended it to make the score 7-6. 

The Wolf Pack would maintain their lead and even went ahead by as many as five points. With the scoreboard showing a 17-14 Nevada lead, UCSB took the momentum of the set and went on a 5-0 run to go ahead for the first time at 19-18. From there, UCSB continued with the momentum and increased their lead behind four kills, all from different players. Libero Ali Spindt had the unlikely kill to put the team ahead 20-18, while Britton Taylor and Villanueva added kills of their own to maintain the Gauchos's two-point lead at 23-21.

In closing out the set, Klein delivered a crucial ace to give Santa Barbara set-point. UCSB would go on to get the game-clinching 25th point thanks to a service error by Nevada,

UCSB won the third set by a slightly more comfortable margin at 25-20. Nevada took an early lead again, but it would prove to be short-lived as the Gauchos stormed back and took 12-9 lead after a 5-2 run. Taylor closed out the run with consecutive kills, while Grunt and Villanueva also contributed with a kill each.

The Gauchos had strong control of the rest of the match, as the Wolf Pack did not shrink the deficit below four points after going up 17-13. Like the rest of the match, UCSB's offense was multifaceted as four different Gauchos (Barbeau, Grunt, Villanueva, Hoffman0 added a kill to conclude the set.   

Villanueva delivered the match-deciding kill after receiving an assist from Ali Santi, ending the third at 25-20. 

The Gauchos will look to extend their winning streak tomorrow when they take on Pacific at 12 p.m. and Cal at 7 p.m.