WVB: Gauchos split matches with Yale, Rhode Island

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – UCSB split the final day of the Yale Invitational with a 3-1 win over Yale and a narrow 3-2 defeat to Rhode Island. Now with a 4-2 record through the first two weekends of the season, the Gauchos are off to their best start since 2012.

Ali Barbeau put up back-to-back 15-kill performances for UCSB, while she also added 29 total digs on defense. Elizabeth Sheffield finished with a combined 11 total blocks, while she also dealt seven service aces in the first game against the Bulldogs.

The Gauchos will return home for the rest of the non-conference schedule, as they will host a tournament next weekend that will feature SMU along with nationally ranked San Diego and UCLA. Check out the tournament page for ticketing information and for the weekend’ complete schedule.


The Gauchos downed the tournament host with a 3-1 decision behind impressive performances from Ali Barbeau and Elizabeth Sheffield.

Barbeau again led the Gauchos with 15 kills, but more impressively she registered a .433 kill percentage in doing so. The outside hitter paced UCSB in another category with 18 digs, which is by far a career-high.

While Sheffield contributed eight kills and three total blocks, she made history in serving seven aces all in the first set, including five in a row. The middle blocker’s match total is the most by a Gaucho since Leah Sully (’09-’13) hit the same mark in 2009.

At the net, Phoebe Grunt hit a season-high with nine total blocks (two solo) and also picked up five kills. The blocks are the most she has had in a single match since she made 10 against Hawai’i in the 2013 season.

The Gauchos were able to take control of the match early in the first set thanks to Sheffield’s remarkable run at the service line. While Yale took a 5-1 the open the set, Sheffield initially took on the serving duties after throwing down a kill to make the score 5-2. Once she got to the line, the Bulldogs looked lost. They committed three attacking errors, while Sheffield added three aces before Yale coach Erin Appleman called a timeout. But after the teams returned to the floor, Sheffield continued on her serving tear with four consecutive aces, and the Gauchos took a commanding 12-5 lead. Yale never got back into legitimate contention, as UCSB took the set 25-16.

The second game was more competitive, as the lead was never more than three points before the Gauchos broke off on their set-clinching 5-2 run. Britton Taylor opened the run with a kill – she finished the match with nine – as she and Grunt blocked a Kelley Wirth attack to take a 22-18 lead. After Jaylen Villanueva added a kill, the Bulldogs committed a pair of errors (bad set, service error) to end the game at 25-20.

After the break, Yale rallied with its strongest attacking set of the match with a .216 kill percentage to nab the third game 25-15.

But the Gauchos answered back in a big way in a 25-10 fourth game win with a robust .542 hitting percentage and 14 kills, while holding the Bulldogs to a -.083 hitting clip.

In that set, UCSB wasted no time in grabbing hold of a lead, as they opened with a 13-2 run. Barbeau played big in that stretch, as she tallied five kills and a solo block. Fittingly, the senior provided the exclamation point for UCSB’s dominant set with the match-clinching kill.


Battling in their first five-set match of the season, the Gauchos fell 3-2 to Rhode Island to end the Yale Invitational.

Ali Barbeau put up another 15-kill effort in leading UCSB with 17 points, while Chanel Hoffman had a season-high 12-kill performance off a .625 kill percentage. Overall, the Gauchos swung at a combined .275 clip. Hanna Nielson registered a team-high 26 assists, while Annie Hasselamann added 17.

Defensively, Emilia Petrachi led the team with 19 digs, as Nielson and Barbeau followed her with 12 and 11 scoops, respectively. Leading all players with five blocks (three solo) was Elizabeth Sheffield, while Phoebe Grunt was close to her with four block assists.

The Gauchos took the first set 25-20 after a putting together a pair of big scoring runs. The first came when the team was behind 9-6, but rallied back with an 8-1 run to take hold of its largest lead of the game. Taylor opened up the scoring with a kill, while Jaylen Villanueva put up the most points with a kill and a pair of aces. The Rams knotted up the score at 15-15, but the Gauchos answered with 6-1 offensive stretch. A Rhode Island service error was the first of four consecutive UCSB points, as Sheffield and Taylor made back-to-back blocks and Barbeau registered a kill. From there, UCSB never gave up its lead in finishing the game on top 25-20.

Rhode Island was able to tie the overall score before the break, as they came back from being down 20-18 with six straight points. The Gauchos were able to stay alive thanks to a kill from Barbeau and an attacking error from Franki Darnold, but Layne Self sealed the win for her team with a kill, making the match 1-1.

In the third set, the Gauchos grabbed hold of an early lead and never let it go. With a 10-3 run in the early goings of the game, UCSB used it service game to disgruntle the Rams who committed five errors during that stretch. After taking an 11-5 advantage, the deficit was never cut to fewer than three points, as the Gauchos held Rhode Island to a match-low .100 hit percentage and a match-high seven attacking errors.

However, the Rams were able to bounce back in the fourth set, winning 25-15, and continued with that momentum into the decisive fifth where they finished ahead 15-12.