UCSB Drops Final Two Matches in Cal Molten Classic

UCSB Drops Final Two Matches in Cal Molten Classic

BERKELEY, Calif. – In the final day of the Cal Molten Classic, UCSB fell in matches against Pacific and Cal after struggling to find consistency on offense.

Santa Barbara's record slides to 3-6 as it finished up its final road tournament of the regular season.

Ali Barbeau led the team through the matches with 20 total kills, while Jaylen Villanueva was behind her with 19. Leading in the assists column was Ali Santi who averaged 6.14 assists per set between the two contests. Highlighting the day's action was the Gauchos' 25-19 second set victory against Cal.

Pacific

UCSB saw its four-match winning streak end after falling 3-0 to Pacific to start the second day of the Cal Molten Classic. Though finishing with 10 total blocks, the Gauchos could not contain Pacific's offense, which turned up 48 kills behind a team .254 hitting percentage.

Jaylen Villanueva led the Gauchos' attack with 10 kills, while swinging at a .258 clip. Ali Barbeau and Phoebe Grunt each added eight and seven kills, respectively. Grunt also had four total blocks (two solo), while Allie Sullberg also had four. On defense, Ali Spindt recorded 12 digs.

Pacific had two players reach double digit kill figures with Kat Schulz and Anne-Sophie Bauer producing 13 and 12 kills, respectively.

In the first set, UCSB jumped out to an early lead at 11-9. The Gauchos got on the scoreboard with a block from Grunt and Villanueva, while Villanueva would later register UCSB's first kill to give her team the 3-1 lead. Barbeau also added to the Gaucho advantage with two kills of her own, while Grunt gave the team its 11th point off a kill.

After a good start to the set, UCSB lost their momentum after a string of attacking errors, which helped give Pacific four-straight points for the 13-11 lead. From there, Santa Barbara looked to keep the score close, but could not come within closer than two points for the rest of the set.

The second game featured a close bout, as neither team went up by more than four points. The Gauchos gained their first multi-point lead of the match after rallying with three consecutive points to go ahead 13-11. Te run started with a Pacific service error, while Villanueva swung for a kill to give UCSB its first lead since the game's opening point. A pair of Tigers errors maintained the Gauchos' lead, but Bauer and Alicja Wilk turned around their team's offense to reclaim the advantage.

While facing set point at 24-18, UCSB kept battling with three unanswered points, thanks to the effort of Grunt. The sophomore first made a solo block to start it off and was later aided by Barbeau on a block assist to move the score to 24-20. She held off Pacific for one more point with a kill, but the Tigers would eventually get their 25th point from a Schulz kill.

In the contentious third game, the teams traded off meager leads, as there was no run longer than three unanswered points on either side. One of those moments was when Pacific was ahead 10-7, but UCSB was quick to respond with a 5-2 run to tie the game at 12-12. The Gauchos saw kills from Barbeau and Chanel Hoffman during the stretch.

With both teams past the 20-point mark, Villanueva gave UCSB the 22-21 lead with a kill, while Hoffman followed that play up with a kill of her own. Pacific, however, fought back and recorded four consecutive points to end the decisive game at 25-23.

Cal

UCSB was able to take a set, but Cal was able to close its tournament with a 3-1 decision over the Gauchos.

Ali Barbeau and Chanel Hoffman led the floor with 12 kills each, while opposites Britton Taylor and Jaylen Villanueva both recorded nine. Ali Spindt contributed on defense with a season-best 24 digs, while Ali Santi was one scoop shy of a double double as she recorded 25 assists and nine digs.

Cal was led by Christina Higgins's 11 kills, while it also had 13 total blocks.

The fellow UC schools opened the match with a tight first set with the Golden Bears winning it at 25-20. Cal held the early lead, but the Gauchos kept the deficit narrow and would stay within one point until the Golden Bears were up 15-14. At that point, the home team strung together four straight points. The newly found five-point lead proved to be too much for the Gauchos to overcome as their offense was unable to gain momentum.

Chanel Hoffman recorded two kills to put UCSB within four at 20-16, while Barbeau continued to keep UCSB in the set with a kill.

As the Golden Bears reached set point at 24-18, the Gauchos delayed Cal of its first set win with consecutive points from Sullberg and Spindt kills.

The Gauchos pulled off a decisive 25-19 second game victory, tying the match at 1-1 entering the break. After trailing in the early goings, the Gauchos took their first lead of the set at 3-2 after Barbeau and Villanueva recorded back-to-back kills. From there, the Gauchos never looked back.

The team kept a strong hold of its lead, as they even went up by as many as six points. While Cal initially kept itself close with UCSB at 9-7, the Gauchos made their move with a 6-2 run to put the Golden Bears out of reach. Villanueva led UCSB with a pair of kills during that stretch, while Grunt added a kill and Britton Taylor contributed with a solo block. Completing the run was Barbeau with her third kill of the set.

With the lead in hand, the Gauchos cruised through the rest of the set, as they scored seven of their final ten points with kills. Hoffman and Villanueva each had two of them, while Barbeau Grunt, and Taylor also added one each. On their way to evening the match, UCSB reached set point with Allie Sullberg's solo block of Antzela Dempi's attack. Hoffman sealed the win two points later with her third kill of the set.

Entering the fourth set, Cal was coming off its 25-16 third game victory. Like in the second game, the Gauchos were able to keep close with the Golden Bears and held a tie with them at 9-9. Villanueva opened the game with a pair of kills, while Sullberg gave UCSB its third point with a kill of her own. Villanueva continued with her aggressive attack two more kills in the set.

In breaking the 9-9 tie, Berekeley charged out on a 10-1 run to take the 19-10 lead and went on to wrap up the match with a 25-18 win.

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The Gauchos will continue their season next week when they host two matches in the Thunderdome for the UCSB/Cal Poly Tournament. Santa Barbara will open the weekend with Santa Clara on Sept. 19 at 5 p.m.

For more information on UCSB women's volleyball, follow the team on Twitter @UCSB_Volleyball and on Instagram @UCSB_Volleyball.