SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UCSB suffered its first conference loss of the year and saw its winning streak end in a 3-0 loss to UC Davis in the Thunderdome on Saturday night.
"We played tentatively tonight," UCSB Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "We had opportunities in the first two sets, but we didn't have enough urgency to capitalize on them. We are very disappointed with our performance because we know that we are a lot better than that."
The Gauchos' record falls to 7-7, while their Big West mark moves to 2-1. UC Davis has now won two straight matches as it improves to 7-9 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
At the net, Hoffman and Allie Sullberg both had the team-high of four total blocks, while Phoebe Grunt and Elizabeth Meddaugh recorded three block assists each. Overall, the Gauchos combined for 20 total blocks, which is highest total since they tallied the same amount against Santa Clara on Sept. 19.
The first set was a game of runs, as both teams took turns in creating big leads. The Aggies started off hot with four unanswered points from the get-go. UCSB was quick to respond, though, with an 8-0 run to take the 8-4 lead. Villanueva registered the Gauchos' first point of the match with a kill, while Hoffman swung for a kill to make it two in a row. From there, Villanuva would record two more kills, while Allie Sullberg added one of her own along with a block assist she made with Hoffman.
With a four-point lead, UCSB traded points with Davis until it held an 18-14 advantage. From there, the Aggies found their biggest run of the set with a 7-1 burst to recapture the lead at 21-19.
After Davis reached game point at 24-20, Villanueva kept the Gauchos alive with her fifth kill of the set. However, the lead was enough for the Aggies as they clinched the set at 25-21.
In the second set, UC Davis was able to jump out to an early lead again at 5-3, but the Gauchos made their response after Phoebe Grunt entered the match for the first time.
The middle blocker made her presence known immediately as she made a block assist in just her second play. It was the second point in what would be an 8-1 UCSB run. During that stretch, Grunt recorded a kill and a solo block in consecutive plays, while she also added another block assist to help the Gauchos capture an 11-6 lead. UCSB could not maintain its lead, though, as UC Davis found some momentum on an 11-3 run that ended with eight straight Aggie points.
Santa Barbara put itself back within two points at 19-17 after consecutive kills from Barbeau and Taylor, and forcing Valerie Brain into an attacking error, but Davis would later close the set at 25-19.
The Aggies took hold of the third set early and never gave up their lead, as they were able to clinch the match with a 25-16 victory.
The Gauchos will return to game action next week when they travel to UC Irvine (10/10) and Cal State Fullerton (10/11). UCSB will be back in the Thunderdome the following to host two of the Big West's top teams in Long Beach State (10/17) and Cal State Northridge (10/18).