FULLERTON, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton matched its second worst start in program history Friday afternoon, falling to UC Santa Barbara 3-1 (15-25, 19-25, 25-14, 25-17) in a Big West Conference tilt at Titan Gym.
It was the 25th straight loss to start the season for the Titans (0-25, 0-13), matching the second longest losing streak to start a season. Fullerton dropped its first 25 matches in 1992. The Gauchos (7-17, 3-10) snapped a five-match losing streak and six match streak away from the Thunderdome.
Katelyn Nielsen set a new career high as the sophomoe outside hitter blasted 13 kills to lead the Titans offensively. She also attacked at a .400 clip (13-1-30), another career best. Summer Kerins and Precious Manu had eight kills apiece and Megann Delgado added six. Paige Reed had 17 digs and Rachel Brown added 11. Mackenzie Olsen dished out 29 assists in the loss.
Jaylen Villanueva led the Gauchos attack, which had four players record double figures in kills. Villanueva posted 14 along with 13 digs while Phoebe Grunt added 13 kills. Elizabeth Sheffield hammered down 11 kills and Britton Taylor had 10. Hanna Nielson also posted a double-double for the Gauchos, dishing out 30 assists to go with 12 digs. Emilia Petrachi led all players with 26 digs on the night. As a team, the Gauchos recorded 76 digs.
The Titans dropped the first set after getting outhit .368 to .135. The Gauchos never trailed in the frame and got five kills from Sheffield and four from Grunt. Nielsen had four of her kills in the set for the Titans but the rest of the team tallied five combined to go along with four errors.
In the second set, the teams traded the lead three times to go along with seven ties. In the end, the Titans managed to hit just .028 in the set with seven kills and six errors. The Gauchos got five kills from Grunt in the second and three apiece from Villanueva and Sheffield.
The Titans cut into the deficit in the third set, leading the entire way with four ties thrown into the mix. Nielsen blasted five kills without an error in the frame to lead the way and Manu pitched in with three and four digs while hitting at a .500 clip.
But the Gauchos put the match away in the fourth set, getting five kills on seven attempts from Villanueva and four from Ali Barbeau, who did not appear in the match until the fourth set. The Gauchos would go on to hit at a .371 clip in the fourth while holding the Titans to a .189 mark.
The Titans will host Cal Poly on Saturday night at Titan Gym still in search of their first victory with three matches left to play in the season.
Notes: Nielsen's previous career high was 12 kills, a mark she had reached twice including on Sept. 11 against Central Michigan this season... The Titans had lost 18 straight sets before winning the third set on Friday night. The last set they won came on Oct. 23 against UC Irvine when the Titans claimed the third set in that match… A loss on Saturday night would match Fullerton's worst start in history, which came in 1994 when the team lost its first 26 matches of the season en route to a 1-28 season… Both teams tallied 11 blocks on the night. Kerins led the Titans with three with Kandace Thomas, Olsen and Delgado each tallying two.