The UCSB women’s volleyball team is in Hawaii tonight in preparation for a showdown between the first and second place teams in the Big West. No. 9 Hawaii is seemingly unstoppable, toting a 19-2 record and a 12-0 mark in the Big West.
The Gauchos, however, have climbed their way up to second place in the Big West with a 13-12 overall record and a 6-4 conference record.
“If we are going to be successful against this team, we are going to have to serve well because they have a great offense,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “The goal here is to play better than we did last time and to compete with the number one team in the Big West.”
Santa Barbara heads into the game hoping for as good of a month, if not better, than October. Last month, UCSB went 5-3 and is still in the midst of a modest two-game winning streak.
The offense has started to really come together in recent weeks as the Gauchos are now scoring from all across the court. In their most recent victory, four players recorded double-digit kills, and also hit over .230 as a team and recorded nine service aces the last two games.
Hawaii, however, enters the match as the hottest team in perhaps all of volleyball. The Rainbow Wahine have won twelve straight games, dating all the way back to a Sept. 9 loss against UCLA. Hawaii junior outside hitter Emily Hartong is also coming off arguably the best week of her career.
Hartong earned her third Big West Player of the Week honor for her performances against Long Beach State and UC Irvine. She was also named Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Player of the Week. She recorded a career-high 33 kills and 15 digs last Friday and 29 kills and a career-high 16 digs on Saturday. In the last meeting between these two teams on Oct. 6, Santa Barbara fell in three sets at home. The Gauchos managed just 13 points in the first set, but steadily got better through the night, scoring 16 and 21 in the second and third sets, respectively. The game boiled down to the blocking of Hawaii and the Gauchos’ mistakes that made the game so one-sided. “We will have to spread the court around,” Gregory said. “We will hope they don’t attack our right side blocking and our right side defense like they did last time because that was the problem.”
Since that loss though, UCSB has gotten hot and it may be worth noting that as good as the Rainbow Wahine have been, their only two losses have come at home.
Tonight, the game will take place at Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center at 10 p.m. Pacific time.