Eastern Falls To UC Santa Barbara In First Match Of USD Tournament

Senior Ashley Wright and junior Melissa Waelter each notched a team-best seven kills, with write pacing the squad hitting .467 (7-0-15)

The Eastern Washington women's volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to UC Santa Barbara Friday, Sept. 13, in its first match at the USD Tournament in San Diego, Calif.

The Eagles fall to 3-6 on the year while the Gauchos improve to 3-4 with the win. Set scores for the match were: 12-25, 18-25, 16-25.

Senior Ashley Wright and junior Melissa Waelter each notched a team-best seven kills, with write pacing the squad hitting .467 (7-0-15).

Senior setter Lindsay Niemeier led the team with 12 assists while Waelter notched a team-high nine digs. Sophomore Kellen Barfield set a new career high with three service aces.

The first set was close in the early going, with neither team able to gain much separation. UCSB broke a 2-2 tie with three straight points but EWU drew back to within one, 8-7, on a kill from Waelter. The Eagles would get no closer, however, as the Gauchos scored six straight points, forcing head coach Wade Benson to call timeout. A kill from Wright brought EWU back to within five, 15-10, but UCSB reeled off five of the next six points to take a 20-11 lead en route to winning the set.

A kill from Waelter gave Eastern a 1-0 lead to start the second set, but UC Santa Barbara took control from there, opening up a 6-2 lead. The Eagles would respond, coming back to within three, 13-10, on a block from junior Talia Fermantez and Wright, causing the Gauchos to call their first timeout of the frame. Eastern would pull to within two, 14-12, on a service ace from Wright, but the rest of the set was all UCSB as the Gauchos won eight consecutive points to take a 22-12 lead that proved too much for EWU to overcome.

Unfazed by the first two sets, the Eagles started strong in the third frame, taking a 7-5 lead after three consecutive service aces from Barfield. UCSB rallied to take a 10-9 lead on three straight kills, but the Eagles answered with kills from Wright and sophomore Allie Schumacher to regain a slim 11-10 advantage. It would be Eastern's last lead of the night, however, as the Gauchos used a 7-1 run to take a 17-12 lead. EWU scored back-to-back points to reduce UCSB's lead to three, 17-14, and the two teams traded points twice before UCSB went on a 6-0 run to claim the set and the match.

Katey Thompson led all players with 12 kills while Ali Spindt added 10 kills.

The Gauchos outhit the Eagles .310 to .093, and UCSB recorded 18 blocks to Eastern's six.

The Eagles face a tough test tomorrow, playing a pair of matches against top-10 foes. EWU opens up with host and No. 9 San Diego at 10 a.m. before taking on top-ranked USC at 5 p.m.

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