In front of a packed Thunderdome and a national audience on ESPNU, the UCSB women’s volleyball team (7-6, 3-0) topped rival Cal Poly (5-8, 2-1) in four sets Friday night, 19-25, 25-20, 25-19, 26-24. The Gauchos trailed 20-12 in the fourth set and closed out the night on a 14-4 run to win their fifth straight and remain unbeaten in Big West play.
Michelle Ohwobete led the Gauchos with 14 kills and added six digs and a block. She went a perfect 20-for-20 on serve receptions as well.
For the fifth-straight match, Tallulah Froley went for double-digits sending down 13 kills and added five total blocks with one solo.
Deni Wilson tied her season-high with nine blocks as the Gauchos outblocked the Mustangs 17-6, tying a season-high. UCSB has had 13+ blocks in all three conference matches.
Briana McKnight nearly missed a double-double with eight kills and nine digs.
Cal Poly came out hot in the first, outhitting UCSB .317 to .154 and went for 17 kills. After taking a 9-8 lead the Mustangs never looked back to take the early lead.
The momentum shifted in the second, with Santa Barbara hitting .432 as a team, as four different Gauchos had at least three kills. It was a close game throughout, but the Gauchos would score the final four points of the set, taking their largest lead on Ohwobete’s clincher to win it 25-20.
Both teams hit extremely efficiently in the third set. The Gauchos had their highest hitting percentage of the night at .481 to Cal Poly’s .382. The difference came in the block game, as UCSB had five blocks in the third set alone while Cal Poly had just four for the entire match to that point.
It appeared the match was heading for a fifth set as Cal Poly led 20-12 in the fourth, but the Gauchos had other plans, chipping away until it was a 21-20 ballgame. The Mustangs claimed three of the next four points and UCSB answered by staving off three-straight set points to tie it at 24 apiece. McKnight gave her team the lead and match-point with a clutch kill and the final play was one for the books. Macall Peed dug a ball with her foot to keep it alive and on the next Mustang swing the Gauchos found their 17th block of the night to end it.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.