UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball team (18-2) wrapped up their weekend of matches in The Thunderdome tonight as the Gauchos took on the Rainbow Wahine of Hawai’i. As volleyball fans could expect, this match turned into a five-set thriller, coming down to the final points and multiple challenges to decide the winner. By the end of the evening, it was the Gauchos who came out with the win, taking down the Wahine in five sets while staying undefeated in Big West play.
FROM COACH MATT JONES
“It is always a little anticlimactic to win a match on a challenge, but we got the win so that is all that matters. Every win is a big one, but to beat Hawai’i who is second in the conference definitely means something to us, but we aren’t even half way through the conference season yet. We have a long way to go. We just have to get some rest this weekend and get back to work.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Gauchos carried over all their momentum from their win over Cal Poly into this match. The entire offense contributed for Santa Barbara on the way to taking the lead in the first set, going up by as many as four early on. However, a team as tough as Hawai’i didn't stay down for long as they chipped away at the lead, tying the set at 20’s. These two teams would not let the other get ahead easily, but with three-straight Gaucho kills from Michelle Ohwobete, UC Santa Barbara finished out the first set on top, defeating the Wahine 25-22.
Hawai’i was ready to fight back. They came out hot in the second set, grabbing an early six-point lead over the Gauchos. Even though the home team tried to rally back, it wasn’t enough. The Rainbow Wahine took the second set 25-19 to tie up the match.
Santa Barbara reversed the script in the third set, coming out with a five-point lead with more kills from Ohwobete and Grace Wuischpard. Again, it couldn’t keep the Wahine away for long as they came back to tie the set at 18’s. From there, these two teams went kill for kill until one team pulled ahead. Likely, that team was the Gauchos. With help from Briana McKnight at the service line, the Gauchos closed out the third set 25-21 to take the advantage.
Neither team could get into a consistent rhythm in the fourth set as the score was tied up 11 times throughout. When one team would go on a run, the other would catch right back up. However, the Hawai’i offense lit up in the final four points, giving the Rainbow Wahine the fourth set with a score of 25-21.
Once the fifth set began, the momentum was solely with the Gauchos as they went up by as many as four with a score of 13-9 in the fifth set that only goes to 15 points. However, the Wahine’s four-point run brought them right back into this match. The score was almost tied at 14’s before Coach Matt Jones challenged the final play that went in favor of the Gauchos. This gave Ohwobete the final kill of the match as her team finished with 15-13 win in the fifth and final set.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
· During tonight’s match, Michelle Ohwobete notched her 1,000th career kill as she finished the night with 18 kills. She also contributed 10 digs for a double-double while adding on two aces and two blocks.
· Tasia Farmer and McKnight were the other two Gauchos to finish double-digit kills tonight. Farmer built off her performance from last night with 16 kills and only two errors to hit at a .412 clip. McKnight, on the other hand, put up another double-double with 11 kills and 16 digs to along with a team-high three aces.
· Macall Peed was crucial to the team’s back row efforts. She finished the night with a team-high 29 digs.
· Grace McIntosh and Michelle Zhao were the two setters contributing to the team’s 6-2 offense. McIntosh contributed 28 assists while Michelle Zhao added 19 assists. Zhao also notched 12 digs for her first double-double as a Gaucho.
· Andi Kreiling added to the team’s strong defensive efforts. She led the team in blocks with nine.