The UCSB women’s volleyball team will host two tough teams this weekend as they welcome Pacific and UC Davis to the Thunderdome.
At 18-8 and 6-7 in the Big West, Pacific will look to move ahead in the standings Friday night when they play Santa Barbara. The Gauchos rank sixth in the Big West and sit just one spot above the Tigers. At 13-14 overall and 6-6 in conference, UCSB will look to get back on track this weekend after two deflating losses to Hawaii and Northridge last week.
“The games this past weekend were definitely a wake up call for us,” freshman libero Taylor Formico said. “We had two practices this week that have been the best we [have] had all year because we were so upset with our performance last week against Hawaii and Northridge. We know we are capable of beating the rest of the teams that we play this year, so we have been working really hard.”
The last time these two teams met up, the Gauchos needed five sets to pull out the victory. UCSB won the first set only to drop the next two. Then, in sets four and five, Santa Barbara squeezed out close 25-23 and 15-12 wins to earn the ‘W.’
“Basically they know us and we know them,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “It is the same offense and same defense. It’s just going to be a matter of who can execute under pressure.”
Junior outside hitter Leah Sully had a huge game against Pacific, recording 22 kills and 19 digs. However, after recent struggles against Hawaii and Cal State Northridge, the Gauchos will return to their more experienced line-up that centers around Sully.
“We will start playing a 5-1 with Kara [Sherrard] and Ali Santi setting first,” Gregory said. “We will start with that because [their] leadership is better. We have had good practices. We worked on our offense and serving so I think we will be ready to play.”
On Saturday, the Gauchos will see another team they’ve already played once this season: UC Davis. The Aggies are currently 13-13 overall and 7-6 in the Big West. Holding the spot just above the Gauchos in the standings, Davis will look to create some space in rankings.
The Aggies took the loss in four sets in the last meeting between these two teams on Oct. 12. In that match, three Gauchos recorded double digit kills. Santa Barbara will need to execute offensively and find ways to score, as they have posted a .107 hitting percentage over the last two games.
“I think that they see that there is a sense of urgency,” Gregory said. “There are only six games left. How they finish is going to be very important to their future and to the program.”
One player to follow this weekend will be Formico. With 628 digs this season, Formico is currently second on the Gauchos all-time list for most digs in a season and is just 25 away from setting both the UCSB and Big West record for most digs in a single season.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. Friday against Pacific and Saturday against Davis.