The UCSB women’s volleyball team split its final two home games of the year this weekend, beating UC Davis 3-2 before losing to Pacific by the same margin.
“We obviously would have liked to come away with two wins this weekend,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “Both matches were hard fought and we were in a position to win both, but just couldn’t quite get it done.”
The Gauchos (15-13 overall, 9-6 Big West) took the first and the third sets from Pacific both by scores of 25-23. Similarly, the Tigers took the second and the fourth games both by scores of 25-20. Throughout the night, Pacific was able to take advantage of holes in the UCSB defense, hitting at a .226 clip on the night.
“They got a few easy kills because of our lack of communication,” junior middle blocker Stacey Schmidt said.
Playing in a fifth set for the second consecutive night, Santa Barbara jumped out to a 6-4 lead. Pacific responded with a four-point run of its own to take an 8-6 lead. Although UCSB got within two at 13-11, it was unable to complete the comeback, falling to Pacific 15-12.
“They scored too many easy points on us and forced us to earn every one of our points,” senior setter Dana Vargas said. “We had some lapses in concentration and if we had those points back, the outcome could have been different.”
The Gauchos were led by Schmidt, who had a team high 14 kills. Senior outside hitter Charlene DeHoog posted a double-double with 14 kills and 19 digs. Freshman outside hitter added 10 kills and 15 digs, and junior libero Chelsey Lowe had a career-high 30 digs.
On Friday against UC Davis, Santa Barbara found itself on the other side of a five-game match. UCSB struggled early in the contest, dropping the first two sets to enter the locker room with a 2-0 deficit.
“In the locker room, I told them we have a chance to do the same thing they did to us,” Gregory said. “We focused on one game at a time and once we started playing a little harder and with a little more passion behind our home crowd, we were able to pull off a great comeback.”
Despite losing the battle on the stat sheet (UCSB had 65 digs to Davis’ 96 and hit .223 to Davis’ .268), the Gauchos were able to persevere and complete the comeback with timely hitting and effort.
“[Davis’] defensive performance was simply unbelievable,” Gregory said. “It was a hard fought game throughout, and we stepped up in big spots when we needed to and found a way to win. I’m proud of our team.”
In tight fourth set that featured 19 tied scores and 12 lead changes, the Gauchos fed off the home crowd. Battling into extra sets, the Thunderdome was loud and UCSB took the set 29-27.
Entering the fifth set with all the momentum behind them, the Gauchos could do no wrong. Holding Davis to a .174 hitting percentage, UCSB completed the comeback by taking the final frame 15-10.
The Gauchos remain in fourth place in their conference and all but out of the NCAA playoff picture. They close out their 2010 regular season campaign on the road at UC Riverside next weekend.