UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball (1-0) opened up their season at home for the first day of The Thunderdome Classic. 

The Gauchos kicked things off against the New Mexico State Aggies, who they went 1-1 against last season. But today, the Gauchos were the ones to come out on top, defeating the Aggies 3-0 (28-26, 25-17, 25-22) to give head coach Matt Jones his first collegiate win.

“It was really exciting to start the season here at home,” Jones said. “We worked a lot in practice on finding ways to overcome adversity, and I am really proud of our team for digging deep and utilizing that in the first set.

“At the end of the day, 1-0 is what we need and we will keep playing hard as the weekend goes on.”

The Gauchos came out on fire for their first match of the season, grabbing a nine-point lead early in the set. However, the Aggies fought back hard as they went on two service runs of four or more points, closing the gap and taking this set into extra points. 

Santa Barbara wasn’t ready to give up the fight. With a kill from Tasia Farmer and a service run from Briana McKnight, the Gauchos made the comeback a reality, topping it off with a kill from Grace Wuischpard for a 28-26 first-set win.  

Once the second set began, it was New Mexico State who came out with the early start. The Aggies kept the lead until a kill from Sophie Reavis tied it all up and gave the Gauchos the momentum. 

From there, the lead stayed with the home team. Andi Kreiling’s serve kept the Gauchos in the lead as she went on two different service runs that resulted in at least three points. This ultimately led to Santa Barbara taking the second set 25-17.

The third set was similar to the first as New Mexico State hoped to fight off a sweep in their first match of the year. But despite their efforts, the Gauchos proved to be too much. 

These two teams had a tie score seven times, but that didn’t last long. Once the Gauchos hit 20 points, they pushed ahead while the Aggies made multiple mistakes, including a service error that gave the Gauchos the third set and the match with a score of 25-22.

Pin hitters Farmer and Michelle Ohwobete racked up the most kills tonight as Farmer contributed 14 while Ohwobete notched 12.

The Gauchos are running a 6-2 offense this season with junior Grace McIntosh and freshman Milan Rex taking the lead for this match. McIntosh tallied her first double-double of the season with 26 assists to go along with 10 digs, while Rex put up 14 assists.

The Gauchos will be back in The Thunderdome again tomorrow for the second day of the tournament as they take on the University of Denver Pioneers at 7 p.m.