The UCSB women’s volleyball team has won every match since Oct. 29 and has secured a No. 2 ranking in the Big West Conference. The Gauchos have just two regular season games left against San Diego State and Texas Christian University this weekend, and are a likely choice for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they will go as far as their three seniors — libero Chelsey Lowe, right side Stacey Schmidt, and middle blocker Lily Lopez — lead them.
Lowe, who transferred after playing one year at University of San Francisco, is currently eighth on the school’s all-time list for digs at 1,378 and is also poised to finish with the best single-season digs record in UCSB history, needing just 27 more to reach 651. Schmidt is the team leader in blocks, second in kills and was given All-American honors last season, in addition to earning All-Big West honors twice. Lopez has the best hitting percentage on the team at .340, a mark good enough for second overall in the conference.
Daily Nexus: Did you play against each other often in high school?
Chelsey Lowe: [Stacey and I] were in the same league, so we [Esperanza High School] played against each other every year.
Stacey Schmidt: But we [Marina High School] were awful.
C: She was still their best player, and we were always worried about Stacey Schmidt … Lily and I played club together since freshman year. I used to be her setter. I drove her to club practice.
Lily Lopez: Every day.
What is your pre-game routine?
L: We’re very superstitious.
S: Um, I have to have my lucky sports bras.
C: I have to have a peanut butter banana sandwich. I have to listen to either Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC. And I can’t say the other one.
L: I always listen to the same songs.
C: What songs do you listen to, ghetto rap?
L: “Hey Ladies” and “Turn Me On,” those are my two … and I always eat candy.
C: Oh, and then I do a drawing on the whiteboard of the Gaucho killing the other team’s mascot. This is what I did [at Riverside].
L: That looks like a cat.
What’s your most memorable achievement here?
C: This season. Every win has been pretty memorable.
L: I like when we went to the NCAAs [in 2009]. I’ll never forget that. I feel like our team, though, is the closest this year.
S: If we go to NCAAs this year, it’ll definitely be the best season. I think we’ve had the most fun this year and felt the most comfortable with everyone.
L: We’re like a family.
S: I think my most memorable game was beating Long Beach at home in three [sets] two years ago. And this year, beating them in the Pyramid.
L: That hadn’t happened since any of us had been here.
What are your plans after graduation?
S: I’m considering playing overseas, but I hope to work for a nonprofit. I’ve been interning for nonprofits for a year or two now and I really love what they’re all about.
C: I’m thinking about going to Europe as well. They love Americans ‘cause Americans are usually the best on the team.
L: I have more schooling after. I wanna be either a physical therapist or physician’s assistant. I don’t know where I’m gonna go to school though, but I’ll stay in California.
Who is the funniest on the team?
C: The most dumb?
L: Chelsey’s the comedy of the team … [she’s] funny by accident. She’s oblivious to it half the time.
C: I try and lighten the mood.
L: Jenna [Wilson] cracks everyone up. She’s secretly funny. When you don’t expect it, she’ll just say something funny.
What will you take away from your overall experience at UCSB?
L: Never settle for less than what you know is your best … and I just feel if I ever need anything, I can count on the girls from this year to be there.
C: It has made me a lot tougher as an individual. I’ve never been as close to a group of friends.
S: I just have a whole new appreciation for not just sports, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot of life skills through playing for Kathy … she prepared us for the real world.
C: If you can handle Kathy, you can handle anyone. She pushes you harder than anyone else.
S: She knows how to get the best out of you and she knows if you’re not giving a hundred percent. Making it through four years of that really does make you a stronger person.
C: Sophomore year for the NCAAs, she cut up T-shirts and we had to tie them to our heads like ninjas going to war. We weren’t allowed to take them off … I don’t think I could keep up with that woman.