UCSB blitzed by eighth-ranked Hawai’i

UCSB suffered a straight sets defeat at the hands of No. 8 Hawaii. The visiting Rainbow Wahine lived up to their ranking on Saturday night, producing set scores of 25-13, 25-16, 25-21.

With the loss, UCSB fell to 9-11, 2-3 in the Big West Conference. Hawai’i improved to 14-2 with a perfect 7-0 Big West mark.

The Gauchos were led by outside hitter Leah Sully, who had a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. As a team however, the Gauchos registered some of their worst numbers of the season. UCSB recorded new season lows in aces (1) and blocks (4), and the third-lowest kill total (34) and hitting percentage (.058).

The match seemed to go Hawai’i’s way straight from the opening whistle, as the Gauchos won just one point while serving in the first game, allowing Hawai’i to reach a 92% sideout percentage.

It was also the first time this season that the Gauchos have failed to win a set from a ranked opponent.

“Our offense wasn’t very good tonight,” said UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory. “We’re going to need to pick up the overall tempo of our game and work on our right side defense.”

Despite the loss, there were some positive takeaways for the Gauchos.

“On the bright side, Kara Sherrard had probably her best weekend of the year, so that will give us another offensive weapon.”

Kara had her second strong match in a row, picking up eight kills. Sherrard swung 33 times on Saturday after seeing her attack attempts dip into the teens or lower in five of her last six appearances.

Freshman libero Taylor Formico picked up a match-high 16 digs to give her a conference-best 434 on the season.

Hawai’i was led by Emily Hartong, who seemed to score at will against the Gauchos. Hartong finished with 16 kills and a .341 hitting percentage, including a behemoth .700 clip in the first game.