WVB: Gauchos fall short against Hawai’i in 5 sets

Playing a revenge minded team, UCSB fell to No. 12 Hawai’i in a five-set finish, as the Rainbow Wahine evened the season series in the Thunderdome on Saturday night.

With final scores of 22-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-22, and 15-12, the match was reminiscent of how competitive the teams were in the previous time they faced off in Honolulu a month ago.

The loss ends UCSB’s eight-match winning streak and sets it record at 13-9 overall and 8-2 in Big West play. Hawai’i picked up its second win of the weekend and moves to 20-4 on the season and 9-3 in conference.

The Gauchos maintain their second-place status in the Big West standings, as Cal State Northridge still sits in the top spot at 11-1. Hawai’i remains third in the league as they trail UCSB by one match.

Katey Thompson lead the Gaucho offense with 12 kills against the Rainbow Wahine, and also held her own at the net with four blocks assist and a solo block.

Just behind the senior in the kills category was Ali Barbeau and Ali Spindt who finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Spindt also added a career-high 19 digs to her final stats, as she recorded her ninth double-double of her freshman campaign.

On defense, the Gauchos were again led by Leah Sully who tied a season-high with 27 digs.

UCSB set a season-best of 32 block assists, which beat its previous high mark of 30 that it garnered against Hawai’i in their previous matchup.

Starting in the first set, the Gauchos fell behind early 9-4, but quickly made their way back into contention with an 8-2 run.

Allie Sullberg registered one of her six kills of the night to trigger the scoring spree. Jaylen Villanueva and Spindt followed their middle blocker with back-to-back kills.

Later on, Villanueva found another kill to tie the set at 11, setting the stage for Phoebe Grunt who put UCSB ahead with her first kill of the match.

From that point, Santa Barbara never gave up its lead and reached set point at 24-20. Hawai’i fired off two quick kills, but Spindt hit the game clinching kill to end the first 25-22.

Hawai’i responded with a strong showing in the second set and came away with the 25-15 victory.

The Gauchos responded with a gritty 25-23 win in the third.

The set was a test for both squads, as neither could establish an early lead. However, UCSB broke away with a 7-2 run when Hawai’i was leading 12-9. Barbeau had a pair of kills during the stretch, while Katey Thompson bookended it with a kill and a service ace.

Thompson felt comfortable at the service line in the third set, as she went on to secure the game win for UCSB with another service ace. The senior finished with a match-high three aces.

After the Rainbow Wahine took a tightly contested fourth game 25-22, the teams found themselves in a five-set match for the second time this season.

The opponents traded off points early on, but Hawai’i was able to establish a three-point lead at 7-4 with the help of two kills from Emily Hartong. The Rainbow Wahine gave up their advantage as soon as they captured it by recording three-straight attacking errors, which tied the game at 7-7.

Hawai’i retook the lead and found itself ahead 13-10, but the Gauchos refused to go out easy. UCSB played to a 14-12 score, but ultimately could not keep the Rainbow Wahine from the decisive 15th point.

The Gauchos will look to get back into the win column next week when they travel to UC Davis and Cal State Northridge.