SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After overcoming a 24-21 deficit in the third game, UCSB completed the thrilling sweep over Santa Clara in the Thunderdome on Friday night.
The Gauchos improve to 4-6 on the year, while the Broncos slide to 8-3. Both teams will return to the Thunderdome tomorrow, as Santa Clara will face Northern Illinois (7-4) at 10 a.m., while UCSB will host the Huskies later at 7 p.m.
Jaylen Villanueva led the Gauchos' match-clinching charge in the third game, and ended with a floor-high 12 kills off her robust .500 hitting percentage. The entire UCSB offense was in rhythm, as the team finished with an impressive .300 kill percentage. Quarterbacking the offense were setters Hanna Nielson and Ali Santi who each finished with 15 assists. Santi also finished with a double-double with her 12 digs, while Ali Spindt led the match in that category with 15 scoops.
Allie Sullberg paced the team with six total blocks, while Barbeau and Villanueva finished with four each.
Down 24-21, UCSB was in jeopardy of losing the third set and giving Santa Clara momentum heading into the fourth. The Gauchos needed a big play, and they got one from Villanueva.
The junior opposite came through with her 11th kill of the night, which not only kept UCSB alive, but it also triggered a 5-0 run to end the match.
Every point in the run was either a kill or block for the Gauchos, as Villanueva would tally another kill and block assist before the end of the match. With Phoebe Grunt serving, Allie Sullberg anchored UCSB's play at the net, as she recorded a pair of block assists in the rally. Adding the exclamation point to the riveting run was Ali Barbeau who drove a kill to the back corner of the floor to end the set 26-24.
In starting the match, UCSB fought back from an early Santa Clara lead and soon held a seven-point advantage at 20-13. After falling behind 5-2, the Gauchos knotted the score at 7-7 and took off on a 13-6 run. With the help from two Bronco attacking errors, the UCSB took its first multi-point lead of the game at 10-8. The team wouldn't need much more help than that, though, as its offense fired off seven kills during the run. Grunt, Chanel Hoffman, and Villanueva each recorded two kills, while Britton Taylor chimed in with one of her own.
With their seven-point lead in hand, the Gauchos saw the Broncos shrink the deficit to three at 21-18. However, the lead proved too much as UCSB denied Santa Clara another point, while Barbeau recorded two service aces in three plays to seal the win.
As the match moved into the second set, the teams played each other closer, as neither would take a lead larger than three points. While UCSB was ahead for most of the game, Santa Clara claimed its first lead with the 22-21 score.
With Kristen Mead at the service line, the Broncos got an ace and saw back-to-back kills from Taylor Milton and Sabrina Clayton to grab the lead. The Gauchos, though, were quick to answer back as Ali Barbeau connected on the game-tying kill.
Later, Hoffman added a kill to give UCSB set point at 24-22, which set the stage for Taylor to secure the win on a kill to give UCSB the 2-0 lead heading into the break.
UCSB will finish their tournament play tomorrow night at 7 p.m. with Northern Illinois in the Thunderdome.