The UCSB women’s volleyball team split its weekend road trip, losing to UC Davis 3-1 on Friday before rallying to defeat Pacific 3-2 on Saturday. All three teams are currently tied for second place behind Long Beach State in the Big West with a 6-5 league record.
Against Pacific (15-9 overall, 6-5 Big West), UCSB (13-11, 6-5) won the first set 25-23 but dropped the next two, 21-25 and 22-25. In the fourth set, the Gauchos fell behind 21-16 and then subbed in sophomore middle blocker Jenna Wilson and scored four straight points off of a pair of attack errors and two straight kills by sophomore outside hitter Kara Sherrard.
A kill by senior right side Stacey Schmidt gave UCSB a 23-22 lead, its first lead of the set. The Gauchos did not relinquish the lead as a pair of Tigers’ attack errors gave them a 25-23 win to tie the match at 2-2.
“Our overall attitude was to make sure we have the chance to win,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We played a little harder [than against Davis]. It felt like momentum was shifting at the end of the third and that really helped us for the fourth game.”
In the decisive fifth set, Pacific scored the first two points to set the tone for a set in which no team led by more than two points. Down 13-12, UCSB called a timeout and came back with a kill by senior middle blocker Lily Lopez and an attack error by libero Rebekah Torres, bringing it to match point. Schmidt’s 13th kill of the night definitively ended the match for UCSB, giving the squad a 15-13 win to conclude the comeback.
“We cut out our unforced errors and picked up our offense,” senior libero Chelsey Lowe said. “Everyone started swinging a lot harder and not holding back.”
Lowe had 19 digs, which gives her 1,271 for her career and moves her to 10th on UCSB’s all-time list. UCSB averages over 17 digs per set, best in the Big West.
“It’s an honor to be recognized in the program for digs,” Lowe said. “I feel that UCSB has a history of having the best defense and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
In Friday’s match at Davis (20-6, 6-5), the Gauchos started out with a 25-20 win but lost the next three sets, each by just two points: 27-25, 25-23 and 31-29. Davis never led by more than four at any point.
In the fourth set, the Gauchos went up 20-14 with an attack error by middle blocker Betsy Sedlak, but Davis scored the next five points after calling a timeout. UCSB also had game point at 24-23, but the Aggies rallied again for three straight points after an attack error by sophomore outside hitter Leah Sully. Neither side was able to score two in a row until a kill by middle blocker Valerie Brian and an attack error by Schmidt made it 31-29 to seal the Aggies’ win.
“We had our chances and we really should have beat them 3-0,” Gregory said. “The fourth set was the most disappointing … but all the losses could have been wins, so it’s not like we were playing bad.”
UCSB saw some fine individual performances, as Schmidt had a career-high 24 kills and freshman setter Hanna Nielson had a career-high 63 assists. However, the Aggies had 13 team blocks to the Gauchos’ seven.
The Gauchos return home to take on UC Irvine this Friday.