UCSB women’s volleyball split its pair of weekend road games, shutting out Pacific on Friday before losing a heartbreaker at UC Davis on Saturday.
<span></span>“We had a great opportunity in front of us to get two wins and we let it slip through our fingers,” senior setter Dana Vargas said.
“Getting a split on the road is not bad, but this was a golden opportunity wasted to get both of these wins,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said.
Santa Barbara (11-9 overall, 5-2 Big West) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Davis, but was unable to close out the match. The Aggies (13-7, 5-3) battled back to hand UCSB its first loss in a five-set match this season, where the Gauchos were previously 5-0.
The two teams battled into extra points to decide the first set. Down 20-23, Santa Barbara rallied, with three kills from three different players to tie the score at 23. The Gauchos and Aggies then traded points until UCSB was able to score two straight on kills from senior outside hitter Charlene DeHoog and freshman outside hitter Kara Sherrard to take the set 30-28.
Tied 10-10 in the second set, the Aggies pulled ahead with a four-point run. Santa Barbara — with Sherrard serving — battled back and ran off a seven-point run of its own to take the lead 17-14. The Gauchos led the rest of the way to take the second set 25-21.
In the third set, UCSB stretched its lead to 19-14 and forced an Aggie timeout. Davis stormed out of the timeout determined not be embarrassed on its home floor, and went of a 7-0 run to grab the lead from Santa Barbara 21-19. The Aggies continued their run, winning four of the next six points to take the third set 21-25.
“We completely lost our focus out there,” Gregory said. “After they won that third game, they grabbed the energy and we began playing catch-up.”
With all the momentum behind them, Davis dominated UCSB in the final two sets, never trailing on the way to completing the comeback. The Gauchos got as close as 8-12 in the final frame, but the Aggies would not relent, winning 15-8.
“We can’t always expect to win in five games,” Vargas said. “We need to learn how to finish off a match because good teams are not going to give us any easy points.”
Junior middle blocker Stacey Schmidt led UCSB with 18 kills while Sherrard picked up her seventh double-double of the season and her third in a row with 15 kills and 15 digs. DeHoog added 15 kills and Vargas dished out 58 assists.
On Friday, it was a different story for the Gauchos on the road against Pacific (11-8, 4-4). Led by DeHoog with 18 kills and Sherrard with 13, UCSB swept the Tigers 3-0, to improve its Big West record to 5-1 at the time.
“We showed some resiliency against Pacific,” Gregory said. “We came back from early deficits in both the first and third game.”
The Gauchos took the first game from the Tigers 29-27, and the second by a score of 25-22. Down 14-19 in the third set, UCSB fought back to cut the score to three on multiple occasions before cutting Pacific’s lead to two at 21-23 before ultimately winning 26-24 after consecutive Tiger attack errors.
“In the end, getting a split on the road in the Big West is not bad, and we are still in second place,” Coach Gregory said.
UCSB returns home next weekend when it hosts UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge, both of which the Gauchos have already defeated on the road this season.