WVB: Gauchos push Cal Poly to four

Devin Joos’ career performance was not enough to lift UCSB (6-15, 2-9) over Cal Poly (16-5, 8-2), as the Gauchos fell 3-1 to the Mustangs in the Thunderdome on Thursday night.

Joos reached career-highs of 12 kills and a .258 hitting percentage, while Jaylen Villanueva matched her in kills to co-lead the team. Ali Barbeau also reached double figures in the kill column with 10.

Defensively, the Gauchos had one of their best digging nights of the year in tying a season-high 81 scoops and four players reaching double digits in the category. Emilia Petrachi assumed her usual role of leading UCSB in digs with 21, while Annie Hasselmann and Hanna Nielson hit season-highs with 13 and 15, respectively.

The Gauchos out-blocked the Cal Poly 12-8, with Elizabeth Sheffield (six block assists) and Phoebe Grunt (two solo blocks, three block assists) leading the way.

The teams were neck-and-neck in the opening games with both taking a set before the intermission. The Mustangs struck first with a 25-22 victory in the opening game after a comeback effort.

UCSB got off to a hot start with four unanswered points that included kills from Barbeau and Grunt – who also picked up a block assist with Joos to make the score 4-0.

The Gauchos kept their lead until Cal Poly pulled ahead for the first time at 17-16 following a service ace from Katherine Brouker. That point was a part of an 8-4 Mustang run that brought them to set point at 24-20.

Santa Barbara, though, delayed their game-sealing point with a Barbeau kill and a Joos/Sheffield block, moving the score to 24-22. However, Savannah Nieman finished the game with her team’s third try at game point with a kill.

The contentious nature of the first game carried through to the second with the largest lead for either team being just two points. In a see-saw battle through the opening points, the Gauchos made their move with a 3-1 run that put them ahead 21-19. Britton Taylor opened the run with a kill, while she was complimented with a kill from Barbeau and a Mustang service error.

But Cal Poly was quick to respond, as Taylor Gruenwald led them with two kills in a 4-1 burst that gave them back the lead at 23-22.

Sheffield came up with a clutch kill to keep the Gauchos alive with a 23-23 score, and set the stage for Taylor who ended the game with back-to-back kills. Initially, Cal Poly started off with five straight points, but the Gauchos fired off three straight of theor own with a kill from Sheffield and a block from her and Taylor. A service error gave the ball back to the Mustangs and they remained ahead till the final point.

UCSB held Cal Poly to a match-low .171 hitting percentage in the fourth game, however they could not capitalize in the 25-19 loss.

The Gauchos made their biggest run of the set with six consecutive points led by three kills from Barbeau. Grunt was also in on two blocks during the stretch and Sheffield added an ace. This put UCSB within one at 12-11, but it was as close as the team would get to grabbing a lead.

UCSB will be back home next week when they take on UC Davis (11/6) and UC Irvine (11/7) in the Thunderdome.