Gauchos on the Air
Both matches this week will be aired live on ESPN+ (subscription required). Additionally live stats for both matches can be found on UCSBGauchos.com.
Best in the West
UCSB ranks top 40 in the country and at the top of the Big West in several statistical categories.
National Ranking (Conference Ranking)
3rd (1st) – Assists per set – 13.57
4th (1st) – Kills per set – 14.46
8th (1st) – Assists – 1,479
10th (1st) – Kills – 1,576
36th (1st) – Blocks – 261.0
26th (1st) – Hitting percentage - .266
Rowan Ennis, 50th (3rd) – Total Blocks – 119
Rowan Ennis, 10th (1st) – Hitting Percentage - .423
Deni Wilson, 23rd (4th) – Hitting Percentage - .394
Peed Plays D
Sophomore Penn State transfer Macall Peed has become the everyday Gaucho libero for UCSB and has shown the ability to make tough digs, great passes, and strong serves. Since taking over the starting job she has posted double-digit digs in all but two matches and is averaging 4.55 digs per set on the season, which leads the conference. On the passing end, Peed has an impeccable reception percentage of .971 committing just 16 errors all year.
Freshmen on Fire
Freshman hitters Abrielle Bross and Michelle Ohwobete have made their presence felt through the first few months of their collegiate careers emerging as two of the most impactful players on the floor.
Ohwobete currently leads the team with 345 kills and a 3.19 kills per set average, while Bross ranks third with 248 kills and a 2.36 average. They both rank in the top three of the hitter group in efficiency as well with Bross swinging a .270 clip and Ohwobete notching a .253.
The two freshmen are getting it done defensively as well with Ohwobete collecting 70 total blocks so far and Bross notching 57. Those marks are good for third and fourth on the team, respectively and only trail the two starting middles in Rowan Ennis and Deni Wilson.
Setting the Table
Juniors Grace Kloss and Mehana Ma'a have emerged as the go-to setter duo for the Gauchos this season. Since Ma'a became a regular on the floor during the Thunderdome Classic, the two have done a great job of setting up the Gaucho offense while also playing a key role on defense in many rallies.
Kloss currently leads the team with a 6.18 assists per set average and Ma'a ranks second with a 5.78 average.
Ohwobete Doubles Down on Weekly Awards
The accolades continue to roll in for Gaucho freshman Michelle Ohwobete as she was named both the Big West Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week on November 1st. She now has been named FOW three times and has earned four total honors in her young career.
Ohwobete averaged 4.33 kills, 1.44 digs, and .78 blocks per set in a pair of wins on the road.. Against UCI she notched a career-high 23 kills, which is the sole 20+ kill performance for the Gauchos this year, and added seven digs, five blocks, and two aces in that match. In the matchup with UCSD Ohwobete added 16 more kills on a solid .303 hitting percentage to go with six digs and an ace.
Wilson and Ohwobete Headline Weekly Conference Awards
The Big West Conference named two Gauchos to its list of Big West weekly awards on Monday October 24th. Deni Wilson picked up her first career Defensive Player of the Week award, while Michelle Ohwobete was named Freshman of the Week for the second time this season. The two helped lead the Gauchos to a pair of sweeps this past week including a win over Hawai'i that saw UCSB move into first place.
Wilson got it done at the net for the Gauchos averaging an impressive 2.33 blocks per set to go along with 2.00 kills and a .647 hitting percentage on the week. Against Hawai'i she was dominant tying her career-high with eight total blocks, two of which were solos, to go along with an errorless .571 clip.
Ohwobete continues to prove herself as a vital part of this Gaucho team taking on the responsibilities of a veteran player in just her first collegiate season. This week she averaged 3.17 kills per set, 4.25 points, 1.83 digs, 1.17 blocks, 0.5 aces, and notched a .980 reception percentage committing just one error on 49 attempts. She was especially important in the sweep over the visiting Rainbow Wahine where she posted a 10-1-23 (.391) line to go with three aces, five digs, three blocks and a perfect performance on receptions converting all 33 serves that came her way.
UCSB's 3-0 win over Cal State Fullerton saw the Gauchos swing a .466 team hitting percentage which is the third best performance in program history during the rally scoring era. It trails only a .495 that the Gauchos posted on San Diego in 2009 and a .468 that also happened to come against Fullerton in 2003.
The Gauchos posted a 58-10-103 line in the three-set match.
Ennis Etches Her Name
The Gauchos' road sweep over Cal Poly on October 1 saw senior Rowan Ennis swing a remarkable 9-1-11 line for a career-high .727 hitting percentage. That mark is good for 11th in the Gaucho record books during the rally scoring era and it is the seventh best performance in a conference match.
Ennis and Peed Garner Weekly Honors
A stellar weekend at Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield earned Rowan Ennis and Macall Peed a pair of weekly awards on the morning of October 4th. Ennis was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week and Peed was named Defensive Player of the Week.
Ennis helped lead the Gauchos to a perfect 4-0 start in conference play being a reliable source on offense for UCSB at the middle blocker position with a 3.93 points p/s average and a 3.00 kills p/s average. Against Cal Poly she posted a potent 9-1-11 line for a season-high .727 hitting percentage that led the Gauchos to become the first team to sweep the Mustangs at home since 2016. She added another 12 kills against Cal State Bakersfield on a .500 hitting percentage that gave her a .576 on the weekend. The senior got it done at the net too collecting nine total blocks. This is Ennis' first time winning the award having already won Defensive Player of the Week in 2019.
Peed was the anchor of the Gaucho defense this weekend as the sophomore posted a 5.71 digs per set average and was nearly perfect on service receptions committing just one error on 39 attempts. She saw 15 of those digs Friday night when the Gauchos became the first team to sweep Cal Poly at home since 2016 and matched her career-high with 25 more the following night at Cal State Bakersfield.
Ohwobete named Big West Freshman of the Week
Freshman outside hitter Michelle Ohwobete was named Big West Freshman of the Week the conference announced on Monday, September 13th. The first weekly honor of her career comes after an incredible performance at the UniWyo Invitational where she was named Tournament MVP.
Ohwobete helped lead the Gauchos to a tournament win with a 2-1 record as the freshman notched double-digit kills in all three matches and got it done on the defensive end as well. She moved to a six-rotation passing outside hitter that weekend and looked like a veteran in handling the bulk of the Gauchos' passing duties. She only suffered one error on 99 attempts.
The Oakland, Calif. native scored 16 kills in the first match of the weekend against host Wyoming, which tied her career high, and she paired that feat with seven digs and six blocks. Later that evening she posted a 12-4-22 mark for a .364 hitting percentage in the 3-0 win over Missouri to go along with nine digs and three blocks. She capped off the tournament with another near double-double notching 10 kills and nine digs to go with along with a pair of aces in the team's 3-1 win over Northwestern.
Bross is Boss
Freshman Abrielle Bross was named to the 2021 Gaucho Invitational All-Tournament team in early September as the rookie hitter posted a career-high 18 kills on a .484 hitting percentage against Kansas State. Just a few hours later she was back for more sending down 13 more kills on No. 21 Pepperdine.
Jimenez was all over the floor defensively notching a career 21 digs in the season opener with Illinois. Less than 24 hours later she out-did herself again scooping up 24 more against Valparaiso. The libero added four aces on the weekend as well.
Kloss posted 20+ assists in all three matches including a career-high 28 against Illinois and 24 more in the team's win over UWM. Additionally, the junior setter found 15 digs and an ace in the tourney.
Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
UCSB earned 90 points in this season Big West Preseason Coaches Poll putting them in a tie for third with UC Irvine. The poll is voted on by the 11 head coaches that make up the Big West with each team earning more points for a higher mark on the poll. Hawai'i was picked as the team to beat this year earning 117 points and seven first-place votes while Cal Poly followed just behind with 111 points and four first-place votes.
The Lantagne Welch File
Head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch enters her eighth season and ninth year at the helm of the Gauchos and is coming off the program's best season since 2004. In 2019, UCSB posted a remarkable 23-6 record with a 12-4 conference mark and was invited to the NCAA Tournament for the second time under their watch. There the Gauchos earned their first tourney win 15 years defeating Texas State 3-1 before being edged out in five sets by No. 2 Texas in the second round.