The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball team (26-3) were back in The Thunderdome for the final weekend of regular season Big West play.
Tonight, the Gauchos took on the Aggies of UC Davis, who are still fighting for a spot in The Big West Championships next week.
Even though the Aggies put forth their best efforts, it wasn’t enough to top the Gauchos as UC Santa Barbara won the match 24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 25-11.
“We worked quite a bit this week about being able to find the middle a bit more and being cleaner with those connections,” UCSB head coach Matt Jones said. “We feel like that connection has been a little rough over the last few weeks. Tonight, I felt better about the sets to the middle of the court.”
The Aggies started this first set on fire, showing just how badly they wanted to earn their spot in the postseason while the Gauchos came out slow.
Every time the Gauchos would battle back, the Aggies would continue to push forward. By the time UC Santa Barbara tied up the set, the score sat at 24 each.
Even though the Gauchos tied it up, the Aggies were the ones to execute at the end of the set as UC Santa Barbara dropped the first set 26-24.
The second set started similarly to the first as UC Davis took the first few points. However, no one would hold the Gauchos back. The home team took a two-point lead and tried to build off of it.
Even though the Aggies ended up tying the set at 14, the Gauchos pushed back ahead of the visitors. UC Davis tied up the score four more times, but by the end of the set, it was Santa Barbara who pulled ahead, winning the second set 25-21.
Once the third set began, the Aggies had a newfound spirit, scoring the first three points of the set. Once Grace McIntosh contributed a kill and Macall Peed made her way to the service line, the Gauchos were back on track.
UC Davis took both of their timeouts as UC Santa Barbara’s lead grew to four. Those timeouts helped the Aggies rally back within one before the Gauchos took a minute to catch their breath.
Once they did, Santa Barbara powered through the remainder of the set, grabbing a 25-21 win to go up 2-1 in the match.
Then the fourth set hit. No matter what the Aggies did, they could not stop the Gauchos. Michelle Ohwobete was the first Gaucho to apply pressure from the service line, catapulting her team from there.
By the end of the third set, the Gauchos earned their most dominant win of the season with a score of 25-11.
Briana McKnight finished the night as the only Gaucho with a double-double. She contributed 12 kills while hitting at a .346 clip to go along with 12 digs. To top it all off, she led the team in aces with three.
Michelle Ohwobete had a great night at the pin. She led all players on the court with 16 kills. She also helped out in the back row by adding on nine digs.
Macall Peed was phenomenal in the back row as always. She finished the night with 18 digs while adding on an ace.
Three Gauchos put up a wall in the front row. Grace Wuischpard and Sophie Reavis each tallied five blocks while Andi Kreiling added on four. Kreiling also hit at a .400 clip, securing five kills and only one error on 10 swings.
“Andi and Grace (Wuischpard) had some nice success there,” Jones said. “Davis is a great blocking team and they made our lives difficult early on, but eventually we got in the right rhythm and started to execute.”
Grace McIntosh and Michelle Zhao were the two primary setters for the Gauchos. McIntosh ended the match with 28 assists while Zhao added 15.
“It was a little weird in the beginning of the match energy-wise, but we righted the ship a lot quicker tonight than we did against UC San Diego,” Jones said. “We need to get some rest tonight and come back to get a nice win in honor of our seniors tomorrow.”
The Gauchos will be back in The Thunderdome for the final match of the regular season against the UC Riverside Highlanders as the team also celebrates their six seniors.
First serve will be at 7 p.m. For those who can’t make it to Santa Barbara, a live stream will be available through ESPN+.