SANTA BARBARA - Cal State Fullerton dropped its 18th straight match of the season, falling to UC Santa Barbara 3-1 (25-20, 12-25, 19-25, 10-25) in a Big West Conference contest Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
The Titans (0-18, 0-6) took an early lead but hit at a .152 clip or under in the final three sets in the loss to the Gauchos (6-12, 2-5). The Gauchos outhit the Titans .302 to .104 for the match and nearly doubled up the Titans in the kills department with 63 against Fullerton's 32 on the night. Each team finished the match with 11 blocks.
Kyra Hill led the Titans with 11 kills to go along with seven digs and Summer Kerins added seven kills. Mackenzie Olsen dished out 16 assists with four digs and two blocks while J'Nai Higgins recorded her first career double-double with 10 assists and 11 digs. Megann Delgado set a new career high with 14 digs to lead the team with Paige Reed adding 13 for the Titans.
For the Gauchos, Jaylen Villanueva led the way with 15 kills and 10 digs with Phoebe Grunt and Britton Taylor pitching in with 13 kills apiece. Annie Hasselmann dished out 30 assists and Hanna Nieson added 20 helpers with nine digs. Emilia Petrachi led the defense with 23 digs.
The Titans took the lead early, weathering 15 ties and seven lead changes in the opening set to take a 1-0 lead. Hill had four kills while Kyra Smith added three kills and three blocks. The Titans hit .310 as a team while holding the Gauchos to a .146 clip.
But the Gauchos dominated the rest of the way, leading wire-to-wire in the second set and they never trailed in the third set, with the Titans tying the score four times. The Gauchos again led wire-to-wire in the fourth, holding Fullerton to just 10 points in the frame, the lowest score in a set for the Titans this season.
Fullerton returns home on Friday to take on UC Irvine at 7 p.m. followed by a tilt with UC Davis on Saturday night at Titan Gym. The Titans will play four of their next five matches at home and seven of their last 10 to wrap up the season.