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The 2003 UCSB women’s volleyball team has a great deal to be thankful for this season, including the tactful scheduling of Head Coach Kathy Gregory.
After a very lackadaisical performance last Saturday, losing their final Big West contest against Cal Poly, the #22 Gauchos have one more match to prepare before the NCAA Tournament. On Saturday, the #21 Arizona Wildcats and First Team All-American Kim Glass visit the Thunderdome for a 7 p.m. wrap up to the regular season.
The Wildcats jumped ahead of the Gauchos in this week’s polls after wins against #10 Washington, Washington State and Northern Arizona. The potent Wildcat attack has had a bit of an up-and-down season and despite some early losses, the Wildcats have recorded wins over some of the elite teams in the nation, including #4 Pepperdine, #7 UCLA and #8 Cal.
Recently named First Team All Pac-10 and the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week, sophomore outside hitter Kim Glass leads Arizona in nearly every statistical category with 5.83 kills per game and a .251 hitting percentage and 385 total kills on the season.
The Gauchos and Wildcats have already met once this season in Tucson, with the Gauchos winning the contest on Sept. 12 in four games.
“We knew that Arizona was definitely going to be a NCAA Tournament-caliber team when we scheduled this game.” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “I want to give the girls some practice in a must-win situation against a good team, and that is the attitude we will be striving for on Saturday.”
Despite wrapping up their second consecutive Big West title, the loss to Cal Poly destroyed any chance the Gauchos had at hosting an NCAA Regional.
In the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament, the first rounds are geographically placed in regions. Although this does cut down on travel costs for schools, there are more top-ranked teams in the west region compared to the east, and winning the west becomes that much more difficult.
Although the possibility of hosting a regional is lost, Saturday’s match will have seeding implications for both teams, with the winner gaining a much more favorable draw.