The UCSB women’s volleyball team finds itself in a three-way tie for second place in the Big West as they travel north to take on UC Davis today and Pacific on Saturday. The Gauchos (12-10 overall, 5-4 Big West) will need both wins to make sure they don’t fall further behind first place Long Beach State.
“We’re really excited to play Davis,” senior libero Chelsey Lowe said. “It’s gonna be tough playing in their home gym, but mentally and physically we’ve gotten stronger as the conference season has gone along.”
In the first meeting against UC Davis (18-6, 4-5) on Oct. 1, the Gauchos rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2. The Aggies are in the midst of a three-match losing streak but are 6-0 at home this season.
“They had a great preseason and are very disappointed to have lost their last five on the road,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “They had some problems in defense and passing [in our first meeting], so we’ve been working on passing and serving to be really good … but we expect them to be much more enthusiastic [at home]. We know they’re gonna be ready for a win.”
However, the Gauchos are not preoccupied with their opponents’ motivations and know they can only control how they perform on the court.
“We’re not really focused on how they’re gonna play,” Lowe said. “It’s more about us … our main focus is how we’re gonna play.”
Davis still owns the best overall record in the Big West, but their five losses in league play have them tied for sixth place with Cal State Fullerton.
“If we remain steady and motivated from start to finish, we should be able to pull it out,” freshman setter Hanna Nielson said. “[We just need to] be consistent and have good defense, just do all the things we know how to do.”
The team will then go to Stockton to take on Pacific (14-8, 5-4), one of the teams tied with UCSB for second place. Pacific lost to Santa Barbara 3-1 on Sep. 30 and is looking to have more success this time around.
“The first time they played a very bad match,” Gregory said. “But they’re playing very well now, they’re much improved. They’re setting their offense a lot better, so that’s gonna be a big test for us.”
The Tigers have won four of their last five, whereas UCSB has lost three out of four.
“I think that they’ve improved since the last time we’ve played them,” Lowe said. “We’re tied with them right now, so it’s gonna mean even more … we’re all focused on competing this weekend because it’s second round of conference, the last time we’re gonna play these teams this year, so we’re gonna go all out.”
Friday and Saturday’s matches will start at 7 p.m.