Stockton, Calif. – For the first time in 2012, the Pacific women's volleyball team tasted defeat at home at the Alex G. Spanos Center as UC Santa Barbara rallied for a 3-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday, October 13. The loss for the Tigers was their first at home and first in a five-set match on the year as Pacific dropped to 16-4 on the year and 4-3 in the Big West while the Gauchos improved to 11-11 overall and 4-3 in conference action.
Set scores for the match were: 25-23, 17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13.
The turning point of set one came midway through the frame as Pacific saw a three-point, 15-12, advantage turn into a one-point hole at 17-16 as the Gauchos put together a 5-1 run. From there, the Tigers could never get back what they lost as the Gauchos held off a late Pacific run, including two-straight Tiger points with their backs against the wall, to take the opening set. For the Tigers, the set loss was tough to swallow as Pacific held the Gauchos to just .095 hitting in the frame.
Despite the disappointing loss in the first set, the Tigers did not falter in set two, stifling the Gaucho attack once again to turn the tables in the match. Leading by just two at 15-13 at the media timeout, Pacific ran away with the second set with a 10-4 run to end the frame and even the match at one. During the run, the Tigers, led by sophomore Gillian Howard, posted two of their four blocks in the set as Pacific held the Gauchos to -.059 hitting. She would finish the match with seven blocks.
Continuing the momentum from set two, the Tigers came out swinging in the third as Howard took control of the middle while senior Gabby Cowden locked down the pins. Combined, the duo posted 10 kills and just two errors on 18 attacks. With the Tigers finding their rhythm and the defense shutting down the Gauchos, Pacific turned a close two-point set, 16-14, into a comfortable win by throwing together a 5-2 run, including posting a pair of blocks to kick-start the rally.
In the fourth, the Tigers would see a repeat of set one as a small lead midway through the set vanished behind 5-0 run by the Gauchos to give UCSB the 16-14 lead. From that point on, the Tigers would never lead again as Pacific tied the set twice at 22-22 and 23-23 before finally succumbing to the Gauchos.
Tied at 2-2, the match found its way to a fifth and decisive set where a hot start by the Gauchos set the tone for the frame. As luck would have it, the set would be decided by who could post the final run of the evening as the Tigers stormed back into the set twice, including taking an 11-10 lead after scoring five-straight points only to see their hopes for the victory fade behind a 5-1 run of the Gauchos.
Overall, the match was a defensive struggle for both teams as the Tigers hit just .151 while holding the Gauchos to .109 hitting. Pacific was led offensively by junior Megan Birch who posted 14 kills on 53 attacks. Three other Tigers hit double-figures in kills as freshman Kat Schulz posted 12 kills while junior Jennifer Sanders and Cowden each added 10. Defensively, Pacific saw its senior Libero Koala Matsuoka tie a career high with 26 digs while Schulz finished just behind with 24 digs to post her third-straight double-double. Freshman Kimmy Whitson put together one of the best all-around efforts in recent history for the Tigers as the young setter posted career highs in assists (43), digs (16) ad blocks (7) as she grabbed her first-ever double-double.
On the other side of the net, the Gauchos again were led by Leah Sully as she tallied 22 kills, 19 digs and four blocks as an all-around force for UCSB. Taylor Formico, the Gauchos' starting Libero, proved to be in top form as she tallied a career-high 34 digs to lead UCSB's defense. Overall, the two teams both topped the 100-dig mark as Pacific posted 103 while UCSB tallied 101.
The Tigers will look to regroup and get back into the win column on Thursday, October 18 as they hit the road to take on Cal State Northridge at the Matadome. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm.