The UCSB women’s volleyball team had an undefeated weekend, ousting Pacific on Friday 3-1 and UC Davis 3-2 on Saturday in a dramatic fashion. The Gauchos are now 10-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big West, good for first place.
After Santa Barbara and Davis traded the first four sets, the Gauchos were one point away from a loss, trailing 14-11 in the decisive fifth set. In an incredible run, UCSB scored four straight points to take its first lead of the set. With the crowd and momentum behind them, the Gauchos never looked back and eventually scored two straight points to shock the Aggies and take the set 18-16.
“We found our rhythm at the end,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “It goes down as one of our best victories. When you come back from 14-11, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that … that’s how volleyball is. You find a way to hang in there.”
Davis could have put the Gauchos away serving game point, but junior outside hitter Allison Whitson had a service error and allowed junior defensive specialist Erica Lau to sub in.
“When Erica came in to serve and we started running off a few points it was really great,” sophomore outside hitter Leah Sully said. “The team came together at the end.”
UCSB found energy from their home crowd all night and a few players had career nights. Senior Lily Lopez set a career high with 17 kills, and freshman setter Hanna Nielson had a career high 59 assists.
“We knew this was our home and we had to defend it,” senior right side Stacey Schmidt said. “It felt great to have an undefeated weekend in the Thunderdome.”
In their first home game of the season on Friday, the Gauchos jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Pacific, before dropping the third set 22-25. In the fourth set, UCSB effectively killed any chance for a comeback with an emphatic 25-6 win to take the set and match. Pacific (10-7 overall, 1-3 Big West) had no answer for Sully’s career night. Sully, who missed last year due to a torn ACL, served the first 15 points of the fourth set, leading her team to a commanding 15-0 lead. Pacific’s final score of six was the first time the Tigers were held to a single-digit score in a set since rally scoring began in 2001.
“We needed that win to start the weekend right,” Schmidt said.
Sully totaled 17 kills and 18 digs, earning her 11th double-double of the season. Sophomore outside hitter Kara Sherrard also had a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs.
“These first two weekends we played probably four of the best teams in the league,” Sully said. “We’re super pumped to go into the rest of the conference.”
Next up for UCSB is a road trip to Loyola Marymount this Friday before resuming Big West play at UC Irvine on Saturday.