The UCSB women’s volleyball team maintained its composure during this weekend’s home openers after destroying Cal Poly two weekends ago.
Santa Barbara trounced both Cal State Fullerton and the University of California-Riverside by sweeping three game match wins on Friday and Saturday evening at the Thunderdome. UCSB improved to 8-7, and 6-1 in the Big West Conference. The Gauchos, with the two victories, moved above .500 for the first time all season.
“We are all excited to be home,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “Traveling has been grueling for the team, physically and mentally. All the girls contributed this weekend, which is nice. Our passing was outstanding. We will be putting [senior Brooke] Rundle in more, we’re going to need her for the NCAA [Tournament].”
Santa Barbara was smiling as it upheld its 41-0 all-time record against the Titans with its players’ superior ball control and defensive domination. UCSB won 30-15, 30-23, 30-22.
Junior Courtney Guerra paved the way for the Gauchos with 18 kills while connecting on a .533 hitting percentage. Guerra also had seven kills and scored three of her squad’s first six points in game one.
Senior Brie Lampe tanked the Titans with 11 put-aways to go along nicely with her .733 hitting percentage. Junior Danielle Bauer scored three of the team’s first four points in game three. Overall, Bauer collected 11 kills and 11 assists for her ninth double-double of the season.
The Highlanders, after joining the Big West Conference, along with Cal State Northridge, for the first time this year, faced the Gauchos for the first time since 1986. UCSB rolled into the match with an all time record of 6-0 against Riverside.
Although the crowd was smaller Saturday, the Gauchos’ enthusiasm resonated on the court against the outmatched Highlanders. The momentum continued to swing in Santa Barbara’s favor when Rundle was inserted onto the court in the second game. The crowd had been chanting eagerly for Gregory to make the move.
Sophomore Erica Menzel was all over the floor with repeated digs and making kills that shot through the Titan defense. Menzel recorded a match-high 11 kills, including five in game one. Junior Danielle Bauer had 4 put-aways with no errors in game one.
“It was nice to be back at home again,” Menzel said. “Our consistency is coming into play and our game is falling together nicely. We were happy with Friday night’s turnout and glad that people supported the Red Cross.”
Senior Missy Blackshire and sophomore Francina Edmonds both attained career-highs against Riverside. Blackshire notched seven kills and five digs. Edmonds punched through five kills. After winning the first two games with scores of 30-14 and 30-10, the Gauchos sent Riverside reeling, 30-15.
On Friday night, women’s volleyball t-shirts were sold for $10 each with proceeds going to the American Red Cross. At halftime all those fans that had chipped in for the Red Cross and received t-shirts gathered in the stands for a picture.
Chris Austin, the assistant director of marketing for UCSB athletics, said the local community participation significantly added to the fundraising effort.
“We did pretty well, about $7,500 in total,” he said. “We made $1,300 off T-shirts. $5,700 was donated from local businesses and approximately $500 dollars were from private donations. So, not too bad overall.”