The #19 UCSB women’s volleyball team will open up its “Road Trip of Revenge” against the #14 Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah.
After squaring off with the Cougars tonight, Santa Barbara will travel to face Big West foes Utah State on Thursday and then finish the road swing against Idaho on Saturday.
The Gauchos dropped tough matches to both BYU and Utah State last season and have their sights set on redemption.
Tonight’s match against the Cougars will likely prove to be the most difficult challenge of the trip. BYU boasts not only an impressive squad, but also rabid fans. Those fans have helped propel the Cougars to 15 straight wins in Smith Fieldhouse, a school record that dates back to last season.
While Santa Barbara will have to compete with the crowd as well as its opponents, BYU is anticipating having its hands full with just the Gauchos themselves.
“They have a lot of players back from last year and a 6’3” freshman middle hitter [Niki Carroll] that is doing a nice job for them,” BYU Head Coach Elaine Machaelis said. “[UCSB] is a great defensive team. You have to be very aggressive to put the ball away against their defense.”
Leading the cause for Santa Barbara will be the usual cast of consistent performers that include junior middle blocker Danielle Bauer, junior setter Brooke Niles, senior outside hitter Brie Lampe, and Carroll.
Bauer came out of her early-season funk last weekend against both #2 Long Beach State and University of California-Irvine. Bauer tallied 34 kills in just 76 attempts with only three errors this past weekend.
Niles has taken over the setting role and has propelled the Gauchos with her consistent play and tough mental game. She set her career high in assists in a match against the 49ers last Friday by notching 53 assists.
Lampe, a four-year starter for Santa Barbara, also turned her game back up a notch last weekend when she caught fire for the Gauchos, adding 12 kills and two block assists in a winning cause against the Anteaters.
Carroll, who has already garnered praise from coaches around the country, had her collegiate coming-out party Friday night against Long Beach State when she tossed in 10 kills and five blocks to go along with her .444 hitting percentage.
“We have been playing a lot better recently,” Niles said of her squad. “But we still need to get better. This trip is a great opportunity to get some crucial wins under our belts and get back on track.”