SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The visiting UCSB Gauchos used 14 blocks and a late comeback in the fourth and final set to knock off the homestanding Broncos of Santa Clara 3-1 Friday night at the Leavey Center. Game scores went (22-25, 25-13, 25-21 and 25-22).
Santa Clara (3-4), who received a team-high 12 kills from Kaleigh Durket, won game one and was in position to win game four, but UCSB (5-4) turned the tide with a pair of decisive runs, winning game two going away, then reeling off a late rally in the closing moments.
"This was a match of runs," said Santa Clara head coach Jon Wallace. "Usually that happens early in the year. We got off to a big run in game one, based on us passing really well, they got off on a big run in game two based on us not passing well. They bounced back from their struggles a lot better than we did. We were really knocked on our heels after game two."
The Broncos looked poised and organized in the opening moments, jumping out to a big lead behind the play of Durket and junior classmate Kayla Lommori. SCU limited UCSB to a .171 hitting percentage and took the opening set 25-22. Lommori and Dana Knudsen each finished with nine kills and Bridget O'Hara added 20 digs.
UCSB was able to claim all the momentum in game two, dominating the net with seven blocks, and holding SCU to an attacking clip of -.074. Kara Sherrard led all players with 17 kills for UCSB, including four in set two. The Gauchos also received 12 kills from Stacey Schmidt and Lily Lopez hit .438, while assisting in eight blocks.
"The lack of success we had in game two, we held on to that," said Wallace. "That made us more tentative and they came out of that with more aggressiveness. That really hurt us."
However, the Broncos were able to respond with a strong fourth set and held leads of 18-14 and 21-19 before a furious rally by UCSB ended the match. The Gaucho defense forced Santa Clara into five straight attacking errors during that final stretch to seal the win.
"Our girls battled real hard coming out in game four and we had a good lead going into the twenties, then we gave up that bad run at the end," said Wallace. "We had some good plays but could not execute and it snowballed on us."
Santa Clara is back in action at home on Saturday at 1 p.m. against North Dakota.
Shown above: True freshman Taylor Milton attacks the net during Friday night's match with UCSB (Photo by Mike Rasay)