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    HomeSportsUC Santa Barbara Women's Volleyball End Season at the NCAA Tournament

    UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball End Season at the NCAA Tournament

    Gauchos lost their final match of the season to Houston.

    The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Volleyball team (27-5) returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019, taking on the eighth-seeded Houston Cougars in the opening round. It took four sets to figure out the winner of this match. Despite the Gauchos’ best efforts, it was the Cougars who came out with the win with scores of 25-21, 23-25, 16-25 and 18-25.

    FROM HEAD COACH MATT JONES

    “When we got the draw, we knew it was going to be tough as they are very similar to us. They run a 6-2, they go fast, and they have some talented players. Their middle was the biggest player in the match and made a ton of impact. They are also super well coached, so credit to the Houston staff for how they prepared. We thought it was going to be a coin-flip match and unfortunately it went their way tonight. It’s a tough way to end the season, but it has to end at some point. We played a good volleyball match.”

    HOW IT HAPPENED

    When looking at these two teams on paper, they were pretty evenly matched, and this first set demonstrated that. Although the Gauchos were the first team to take the lead, Houston wasted no time battling back to tie up the set early on. These two teams tied the score 12 more times and exchanged the lead six times on the way to deciding a winner. And by the end of the first set, it was UC Santa Barbara who came out with the win. With Michelle Ohwobete earning five kills in this set alone, the Gauchos closed out the first set 25-21 to go up 1-0 on the match.

    Once the second set began, the Cougars came out hot as they knew they had to pick up the pace. Houston took a five-point lead before the Gauchos could retaliate. Santa Barbara didn’t fully start making a comeback until the end of the set when they tied the score up at 21’s. Despite the Gauchos’ best efforts to grab the lead, Houston was not having it. The Cougars came out of the second set on top with a score of 25-23.

    Once the teams returned to the court for the third set, the Gauchos could not find a rhythm, which carried over into both the third and fourth sets. No matter what they did, Houston had an answer. As the Gauchos left it all on the court at Maples Pavilion, they were not able to move onto the next round of the tournament as they lost the final two sets 16-25 and 18-25.

    LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS

    • Michelle Ohwobete was on fire during her final match as a Gaucho, leading the team in kills with 15.
    • Andi Kreiling could not be stopped in the front row. She hit at a .400 clip, notching seven kills and only one error on 15 swings. Not only that, but she led the team in blocks with seven, one of which was a solo block.
    • Briana McKnight also contributed heavily to the team’s efforts in her final game in the Blue and Gold. She was second on the team in kills with 10 while adding on nine digs.
    • Macall Peed led all players on the court in digs, securing 16 on the night.
    • Grace McIntosh and Michelle Zhao led the offensive efforts for the Gauchos. Zhao contributed 18 assists while Grace McIntosh added on 26 assists to go along with 11 digs.

    The Gauchos finished the season with an overall record of 27-5, having one of the best seasons in school history. The team will begin spring practices in January with a spring schedule to come.

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