Hawai’i overpowers Gauchos in three sets

UCSB was on the losing end of No. 9 Hawai’i’s 69th consecutive conference victory on Thursday night, falling to the Rainbow Wahine 3-0 (25-8, 25-19, 25-18) at the Stan Sheriff Center. It was the second time this season that UCSB (13-13, 6-5 Big West) was swept by Hawai’i (20-2, 13-0 Big West).

The Gauchos were led by junior outside hitter Leah Sully, who paced the Gauchos in kills (7) and digs (11). However, Leah saw her eight match double-double streak snapped. Freshman opposite Jaylen Villanueva hit .308 and saw the lion’s share of setting duties.

Freshman libero Taylor Formico had 10 digs, her lowest total since Sep. 22, when she had just 7 at Long Beach State. She also snapped her four match streak of having at least 30 digs.

As a team, the Gauchos set season lows in a number of categories, including kills (27), attack attempts (93, their first time in double-digits this season), assists (24), and blocks (2.0).

In victory, Hawai’i received a number of outstanding performances. They were led by outside hitter Jane Croson, who in her return from a five-match suspension had a match-high 19 digs. Emily Hartong, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, finishing with 11 kills and a .308 hitting percentage. The Gauchos had trouble particularly with stopping Hawai’i’s middles. Jade Vorster and Kalei Adolpho combined for 17 kills and a lofty .500 hitting percentage.

The Gauchos will look to right the ship on Saturday night, when they travel to Northridge to take on the CSUN Matadors. Earlier this season, the Gauchos swept the Matadors at the Thunderdome. In that match, Taylor Formico set the UCSB freshman record for digs and Leah Sully had 16 kills.