WVB: Hawaii takes Gauchos in four

HONOLULU, Hawaii – UCSB competed closely with Hawaii early on, but the Rainbow Wahine’s strong attack was too much for the Gauchos in taking a 3-1 loss (25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 25-16).

“We played some pretty inspired volleyball for two sets, but unfortunately we didn’t sustain it,” UCSB Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “Ali Barbeau played with a lot of Gaucho pride and competed with so much determination, however we needed more.”

Santa Barbara falls to 9-10 on the season and is now 4-4 in conference, while Hawaii improves to 14-5 with a 6-2 mark in the Big West.

Ali Barbeau led UCSB’s offense with 16 kills, while Chanel Hoffman was behind her with 11. Hoffman has now recorded double figures in kills in four of the past five matches. Hanna Nielson had a team-high 24 assists, which is her highest total since the conference opener against Cal Poly, while Ali Santi had a double double with 16 helpers and 12 digs.

Leading the Gauchos defensively was Ali Spindt who picked up 25 digs, while Hoffman was behind her with 16. Overall, the Gauchos had one of their most productive defensive matches of the season with 74 total digs, which is second only to their 76-dig performance at UC Irvine.

The Gauchos kept the score close in the first set, as Hawaii was able to take the win at 25-22. Neither team was able to gain more than a two-point advantage in the early goings until the Rainbow Wahine went on a 4-0 run in breaking a 14-14 tie.

However, in facing a 24-20 Hawaii lead, the Gauchos called a timeout and came back scoring back-to-back points. Jaylen Villanueva got the first score with a kill, while the UCSB defense forced Tayler Higgins into an attacking error. Hawaii was not able to seal the win until their third try at game point.

UCSB would even the score in the second game, as they soundly took the set with a 25-19 final score. The teams traded points through in opening the set and battled to a 13-13 tie. Hawaii initially broke the tie off a Kalei Adolpho kill, but after an attacking error gave back the serve to UCSB, the Gauchos took off on the biggest run of the game with six unanswered points.

After Hawaii’s attacking error, Phoebe Grunt checked in with a kill, while Barbeau followed her with back-to-back kills. A setting error by Kendra Koelsch made it six-straight points for UCSB and gave them a commanding 19-14 lead.

The Rainbow Wahine answered back with a 3-0 run, but Britton Taylor put a stop to that with a kill immediately followed by a solo block. In closing the game, Hoffman registered a kill and Kristen Berlo buried a kill for the set-clinching point, tying the match at 1-1.

Following the break, Hawaii had a jumpstart in opening the third set on a 5-1 run. However, the Gauchos would tally a 6-2 run of their own to knot the game at 7-7. Barbeau led UCSB on that run with a pair of kills and a block assist alongside Grunt. The teams then seesawed until they found themselves tied at 12-12. Barbeau continued to be a force for the Gauchos leading up to that point as she tallied a pair of kills in three plays. UCSB would go on to lose the set after Hawaii’s offense took control and sealed the win at 25-15.

Hawaii continued with its strong play heading into the fourth game as they garnered an early 8-2 lead. The Gauchos were undeterred, though, and put themselves within two points on a 13-9 run. Barbeau and Hoffman both stepped up for UCSB during that stretch with four and three kills, respectively. In fact, the Gauchos scored nine of their points during that run off kills. After the comeback effort, Santa Barbara had cut what was once a seven-point lead to just two points at 17-15.

However, Hawaii was able to prevent UCSB in making a complete comeback and took game four at 25-16 to end the match.

The Gauchos will continue their season on the road next weekend with visits to UC Davis (10/31) and to UC Riverside (11/1).