The hits just keep rolling in for the #20 UCSB women’s volleyball team.
On Wednesday night, the Gauchos lost their first match to an unranked opponent this year, surrendering in three games to Loyola Marymount University at Gersten Pavilion. The game scores told the whole story as the match finished in a quick, but not painless, 30-19, 30-21, 30-28 Lions victory.
LMU (8-4 overall, 2-0 WCC) left Santa Barbara stunned by dominating the net all night long: the Lions out-hit and out-blocked Santa Barbara (5-7, 3-1 Big West).
The first game was decided from the service line, with LMU serving up an unbelievable six aces without a single error. The other big story in the first game was the overpowering attack of LMU junior outside hitter Kristen Gallup. Gallup had 10 of her match-high 21 kills in game-one alone.
Game two had a similar result as the first, but it was the Lions’ defense that shut down the Gauchos this time. Santa Barbara hit just .000 after the first side change.
The final game was a nail-bitter all the way, as UCSB held the lead late in the game 22-21. However, LMU refused to let the Gauchos back into the match and surged ahead to pluck game three 30-28.
Entering the match, the main concern for UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory was whether or not her gamble to move junior Danielle Bauer from the middle blocking position to outside hitter would pay off. Even though the experiment has only been implemented in one match and the results are still inconclusive, it is safe to say that the early results show that the move might not be the cure-all for Santa Barbara’s problems. Bauer had a disappointing night, notching 17 kills but hitting just .143.
The worst news to come out of the evening for the Gauchos is that this is their first defeat of the season to an unranked team. Wednesday night also marks the first time that Santa Barbara has lost to Loyola Marymount since December 1996.
Undoubtedly, UCSB has struggled so far this year, but no one in the country has played a tougher schedule. Santa Barbara has lost seven matches, six of which have been to Top 25 teams, and five of which have been to teams ranked in the Top 10 when the Gauchos faced them. Also, Santa Barbara has yet to play a match in the Thunderdome. UCSB was 13-2 at home last year, including a spectacular upset of Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Santa Barbara will return to the T-dome for its home opener next Friday night, but first they will have one more away game to battle Cal Poly on Saturday night.