The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball team (9-2) was ready for Day 2 of the Cyclone Invitational. 

Today, the Gauchos faced the Drake University Bulldogs, who defeated Ohio University in five yesterday. After just three sets, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top as the Gauchos took their second loss of the season (34-32, 25-23, 29-27).

“I give credit to Drake. They were super-well coached and covered really well,” Gaucho head coach Matt Jones said. “They got a lot of balls up and had a really special point scorer. We committed to that player and she still found ways to score points. 

“Obviously, this was a much closer match with all two-point losses. We were just sloppier in areas we normally aren’t. When that happens, you won’t beat a good team. Now, it’s time to hit the reset button and come out strong against Ohio tomorrow as we hope to finish non-conference play with a win.”

The Gauchos started off strong in this first set, but it didn’t last long. The Bulldogs battled back, claiming the lead at 16. 

Just when fans thought the Gauchos were out of this first set, Briana McKnight thought differently. Her kill followed up by a solo block gave UC Santa Barbara the momentum they needed to fight back in this set as these two tough teams headed into extra points. 

From there, they went point-for-point, with both coaches out of timeouts. Even with the Gauchos’ outside hitters leading the way, it wasn’t enough to push past Drake as Santa Barbara lost the first set 34-32.

From there, the Gauchos could not find the rhythm. Although they were putting up good swings, the ball did not seem to land on Drake’s side of the court, resulting in them going up seven points in the middle of the set. 

However, Santa Barbara chipped away at their opponents, tying the set up at 23’s. But the Bulldogs’ offense proved to be too strong as they took the final two points from UC Santa Barbara to result in a 25-23 loss in the second.

Down two sets, the Gauchos came out with urgency, grabbing a five-point lead early on. This didn’t keep the Bulldogs at bay. 

The set was all tied up at 16’s with each team exchanging points all the way until the score was tied at 27’s. 

That’s when Drake put up a block and kill that gave them the two points needed to wrap things up. This ended the third set as the Bulldogs defeated the Gauchos 29-27.

Michelle Ohwobete was the only Gaucho to finish with double-digit kills, and she contributed 21. She also only made four errors on 45 swings to earn a .378 hitting percentage on the evening. 

To go along with all of that, she secured 11 digs to put up another double-double.

Grace McIntosh and Milan Rex were the primary setters tonight, contributing 22 and 20 assists, respectively.

The Gauchos will compete in their last match of non-conference play as they take on the Ohio University Bobcats for the final day of the Cyclone Invitational. 

First serve is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. PT with a live stream through ESPN+ and live stats through StatBroadcast.