The UCSB women’s volleyball team was victorious this weekend with two big conference wins. UCSB is now 11-11 and 4-3 in the Big West and reaches a .500 record for the first time since mid-September.
On Saturday night, Santa Barbara took on Pacific in a five-set showdown, as the Gauchos took the first set only to falter in the next two.
“It’s not that we got comfortable, Pacific just started playing their level,” junior outside hitter Kara Sherrard said. “They really came back from being down and started playing their game, and we were not executing.”
In the fourth set, the Tigers jumped on top early until relinquishing the lead when Santa Barbara scored 10 of the next 13 points.
“Our coach said it best; she said to play every point like it’s our last,” Sherrard said. “So we just went out and started fighting.”
The Gauchos recorded 17 kills, putting themselves in position to hand Pacific its first loss at home all season as well as its first loss in five sets, dropping the Tigers to 16-4 overall and 4-3 in the Big West.
“We went in wanting to take that from them because everyone has been talking about how they haven’t lost at home yet,” Sherrard said. “To beat them at home and beat them in five games, the locker room was very excited and I think it will help us carry that momentum to this next weekend.”
Junior outside hitter Leah Sully tallied 22 kills and 19 digs on the night for the double-double. Freshman libero Taylor Formico recorded 34 digs, extending her league lead as well as the team lead on a night where five different players had double-digit digs. Formico also led the Gauchos with two service aces against Pacific along with four the previous night against UC Davis.
“Our serving was unbelievable,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “Our serving took their best player out. She had eight reception errors and 10 hitting errors.”
On Friday night, Santa Barbara began their road trip with a win against the Aggies in four sets. UC Davis rebounded to improve to 10-10 overall (4-3 Big West) with a win against Cal Poly on Saturday.
“We really showed a team effort [against Davis],” junior opposite Katey Thompson said. “Our middles, our outsides and everyone was just playing really well, and Jaylen set a great offense and we proved we are not just a one or two-hitter team.”
Freshman setter Jaylen Villanueva led the Gauchos with 40 assists Friday night and set three players for double-digit kills. The defense also had three players with double-digit digs, led by Formico with 20. Villanueva (two), Formico (four) and Sherrard (two) also had multiple aces in the night in a complete team victory.
With the big weekend, UCSB moves into a four-team tie with Pacific, Davis and Fullerton for third place. The Gauchos will have an opportunity to move up when they welcome Fullerton on Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.