SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gauchos continued their winning streak this weekend with a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine, bringing their conference record to 7-5 and their overall record to 12-11.
Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said the team's strategy going into this match was to, "step back and take care of it and enjoy it and go after it." That is exactly what the Gauchos did tonigh, as their coach wants them to "use that for momentum going forward to next weekend."
UCSB had an outstanding offensive game lead by Ali Barbeau, Jaylen Villanueva and Britton Taylor with 8, 7, and 5 kills respectively. Santa Barbara finished the match with 11 blocks overall and Chanel Hoffman and Jaylen Villanueva recorded 3 service aces each.
Libero Ali Spindt headed the Gaucho defense with eight digs and setter Ali Santi was a standout player tonight with seven digs and 14 assists throughout the match. Villanueva and Kristen Berlo also held the Gaucho ground at the net with three and two block assists respectively.
The first set started off evenly matched until the Gauchos went on a 5-1 streak with the help from two kills and an ace by Villanueva putting the Gauchos ahead at a 6-10 lead. Chanel Hoffman helped cement the Gaucho win with three service aces in a row. UCSB ended the game with a 25-23 win aided by two kills in a row from Barbeau and Taylor.
The Gauchos came out strong in the second set with stellar serving by Villanueva and kills by Taylor, Barbeau and Villanueva putting the Gauchos at an early 12-6 lead. Consistent and strategic offensive plays from UCSB were a huge factor in solidifying the 25-16 win for the Gauchos, who hit for .308 as a team in the set while holding the Anteaters to just a .192 clip.
The Anteaters challenged the 2-0 Gaucho streak with a win in the third set to force a fourth game.
Undeterred, UCSB came back strong in the fourth and finished the game with a 25-17 win. Kristen Berlo, Ali Barbeau, and Allie Sullberg all recorded key kills, which helped the Gauchos increase their lead on UCI. Berlo and Hoffman had two amazing block assists in a row to end the game, solidifying the win against Irvine in the final set.
UCSB will put its three-match winning streak on the line next Friday 7:00 PM at Cal State Northridge.