In its first Big West conference game of the season, the UCSB women’s volleyball team faces Cal Poly this weekend at home.
The Gauchos ended their preseason with an overall record of 5-6 as they enter the beginning of league play.
Coming off a 3-1 win over Northern Illinois and a sweep against Santa Clara in the UCSB/Cal Poly Tournament held at the Thunderdome, the team is now prepared for the start of Big West play and has come together as a unit after last weekend’s pair of wins.
Leading into Big West conference play, the Gauchos come in at seventh place in the conference with a .455 win percentage and Cal Poly is placed two spots ahead at fifth with a 5-5 overall record. Topping the league is Cal State Northridge with a 9-3 overall record.
This season follows the team’s 2013 Big West Championship title, which it shared with CSUN and Hawaii. The 2014 Coaches Poll placed UCSB at third while first-ranked Hawaii currently comes in at second as the Big West season gets underway.
Although Santa Barbara has gotten off to a rocky start, repeating is not impossible. The Gauchos proved this from 2002-2004 when they won the Big West Championship in three consecutive seasons.
“I think our chances are as good as they were last year,” sophomore libero Ali Spindt said. “If we work really hard, I believe that we can [repeat].”
The Gauchos got off to a rough start this year as they began the season on a nine-game road trip, falling in their first four matches of the year to Marquette, Colorado State, Virginia Commonwealth and Loyola Marymount, respectively. However, momentum began to switch for the team as it has won four of its last six matches with three of those being sweeps.
The team is undefeated at home so far this season, winning both games played in Santa Barbara, and of the 12 games played overall, UCSB has had 1426 total attacks, 665.0 points, and 555 digs, while staying limited to only eight ball-handling errors.
Cal Poly ended its preseason with a 3-2 loss to Santa Clara in the UCSB/Cal Poly Tournament.
“We are looking to be really focused in practice this week, so we can go into conference strong,” Spindt said.
Spindt is currently third among the Big West digs per set leaders, with an average of 4.33 digs per set. For her defensive efforts in two games last week, she was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week. In addition, sophomore middle blocker Phoebe Grunt placed fifth in the league for hitting percentage, with a .346 average. UCSB also ranks fourth overall in total blocks so far this season.
The Gauchos take the court this Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of September 25, 2014th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.