The UCSB women’s volleyball team will travel far from home this weekend, heading north for two road conference games against UC Davis tonight and Pacific on Saturday.
UCSB currently ranks seventh in the Big West with a 9-11 overall record and a 2-3 conference record. Davis is 9-9 overall this season and 3-2 in the Big West, good enough for a tie for third in the conference. The Aggies enter the game coming off of a victory against UC Irvine on Oct. 6, the same day Santa Barbara fell to Hawaii. The leading blocker in the league is the Aggies’ own sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee, who averages 1.26 blocks per set. Santa Barbara faced tough blocking teams last week with Pepperdine, Northridge and Hawaii, so it will be nothing new for the Gauchos.
“We are not going to run right into them,” head coach Kathy Gregory said. “Overall as a team, they are a little bit bigger and a good blocking team, but we need to make them play the whole length of the court and quicken up our sets. Last time we were very predictable.”
The Gaucho offense was fairly quiet in their last game against Hawaii and will look for more production this weekend. UCSB will be moving to a 6-2 offense this weekend to give both setters – sophomore Ali Santi and freshman Jaylen Villanueva – opportunities to set up the offense.
Junior outside hitter Leah Sully has had a solid
season to this point, averaging 3.85 kills per set, which is good for fourth in the league. However, UCSB will be looking for help from freshman middle blocker Britton Taylor. Taylor, at six-foot three, ranks in the top 10 in hitting percentage this season and has 152 kills.
Pacific welcomes the Gauchos on Saturday night after a showdown with Cal Poly on Friday. Pacific will be wearing pink for their annual breast health awareness game. The Tigers, which are 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big West, are tied with UC Davis for third place in conference play.
“We’re playing two pretty good teams on the road that are pretty successful,” Gregory said. “Pacific is taking off; they are 15-3 and they don’t want to lose, so we have to battle.”
Pacific begins this weekend coming off a loss to Long Beach State in just three sets that ended a four- game winning streak against opponents UC Irvine, Riverside and Cal State Fullerton.
As a team, Pacific is No. 1 in the league in assists and digs and is second behind only Hawaii in team hitting percentage. The Santa Barbara defense will look to Sully and standout freshman libero Taylor Formico, who leads the league in digs with 434 on the season, to slow down the Tiger Offense and give the Gauchos opportunities to put the ball away.
Tonight’s game against UC Davis and tomorrow’s match against Pacific are both set for 7 p.m.