Mustangs take Gauchos in four

The UCSB women’s volleyball team was unable to overcome central coast rival Cal Poly on Thursday night as they fell 25-15, 26-28, 25-21, 25-19 in a Big West match at the Thunderdome. With the win, Cal Poly earned a sweep of the 2008 two-match series with the Gauchos and stretched its win streak to six straight over UCSB.

With the loss, UCSB falls to 10-14 on the season and to 6-7 in the BWC. With just three contests left on their schedule this season, the Gauchos will for the first time in program history post back-to-back sub-.500 seasons. The Mustangs improve to 14-10 with the win and to 9-4 in conference matches.

UCSB had a balanced attack on Thursday as three Gauchos posted double-digit kills. Senior Lauren McLaughlin led the charge with 19 kills and 14 digs for a double-double. She hit .302 during the match (3e, 53att) and also chipped in a service ace and a block assist. With her 19 kills, McLaughlin moves into the No. 7 spot on the UCSB all-time career kills list with a four-year total of 1,358.

Sophomore outside hitter Charlene DeHoog was second on the team with 17 kills and also posted a service ace, five digs and three block assists. Junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno posted a double-double with 10 kills and a season-high 16 digs.

Sophomore setter Dana Vargas dished out 51 assists and also had seven digs and three block assists. Senior libero Leigh Stephenson had 20 digs and sophomore middle blocker Kasey Kipp led the squad with six total blocks (one solo, five assisted).

For the Mustangs, Ali Waller led the team with 23 kills and a .404 clip (4e, 47att) while also picking up 14 digs. Kylie Atherstone chipped in 17 kills and two aces. Alison Mort led the squad with 26 digs and Hailey Fithian was impressive dishing out 59 assists while also posting nine digs and seven blocks.

Cal Poly broke an early 4-4 tie in set one with a four point run, which included a pair of aces from Atherstone. The Gauchos inched back within one point at 10-9, but a 3-0 run by the Mustangs once again distanced the teams. Cal Poly held the advantage the remainder of the match and outhit UCSB .297 to .195 on its way to the 25-15 victory.

Set two proved to be a different story as the two teams battled tightly through the frame, swapping the lead four times. The Mustangs broke a 21-21 tie with a pair of kills by Atherstone and then reached match-point at 24-22 with another Atherstone kill. Down, but not out, the Gauchos closed the gap with a kill from Saraceno forcing a Cal Poly timeout. An attack error out of the break tied the set, 24-24. The teams would be tied two more times before UCSB broke free from a 26-26 deadlock with a pair of kills by McLaughlin to take the 28-26 set victory. DeHoog led the squad with six kills in set two while McLaughlin chipped in five.

The third set proved to be another tight one as the teams were tied on five occasions. The Gauchos were able to come back from a 17-14 deficit to tie the match at 17-17, but the Mustangs went on a 6-2 run to grab a sizeable 23-19 advantage. DeHoog held off the loss with a back-to-back kills before a kill from Dominique Olowolafe followed by an Atherstone kill sealed the 25-21 win for the Mustangs.

Set four was a see-saw battle until Cal Poly broke an 11-11 tie with a 3-0 run, which they never looked back from. The Mustangs displayed their best hitting of the match, collectively posting a .533 clip in the set, on their way to the 25-19 victory and the 3-1 match win.

UCSB will continue action at the Thunderdome on Saturday when they host UC Irvine in a Big West match at 7 p.m. Tickets for the match are available from the Athletics Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building, on campus, by calling 805-893-8603, or by visiting