This past weekend the UCSB women’s volleyball team experienced both elation and utter disappointment in the same 24-hour period.
Friday night the Gauchos lost their chance to secure second place outright in the Big West by dropping a four-game match to the Pacific. One day later, Santa Barbara had to say goodbye to three graduating seniors before they played in the players’ last home match in a three-game dismantling of Cal State Northridge.
“It was definitely a very emotional weekend for our team,” junior setter Brooke Rundle said. “Friday night was tough for us because we really wanted to win that match, and Saturday was even more difficult because we had to say goodbye to three players who were a great part of our team ”
The first match of the home stand found UCSB fighting it out with UOP for second place in the Big West. Both teams entered the match with identical 13-3 conference records, and the winner would almost certainly take second place and a virtual automatic bid into next month’s NCAA Tournament.
UOP won 30-23, 30-25, 21-30, 30-24, but the match was decided after the first few minutes of play. The match opened on a missed serve into the middle of the net by freshman defensive specialist Kristin Nelson. The serve set the tone for the rest of the match, with the exception of the third game.
The Gauchos couldn’t seem to find their rhythm all night, and then the few times they did, they were quick to let it slip away again. No Santa Barbara player hit over .200 for the evening, including big guns junior middle blocker Danielle Bauer and senior outside hitter Brie Lampe. The two are UCSB’s most effective and consistent attackers, but Friday night neither of them was able to find their groove.
“We didn’t pass very well and as a result our offense just wasn’t very quick,” junior outside hitter Brooke Niles said. “We just weren’t ready to play.”
Junior outside hitter Courtney Guerra, who had five kills and eight digs, agreed.
“We didn’t play very well together all night,” she said. “What else can you say? We just didn’t get the job done. Everyone didn’t have their ‘A’ game and that is what we needed to win.”
The match against UOP was not only extremely disappointing for Santa Barbara because they failed to win, it also served as a notice for just how poorly that Gauchos have been against ranked competition this year. UCSB has notched only one win all season in twelve tries.
The final home game of the season on Saturday night was a night that will not soon be forgotten. Before the game all three seniors were honored: Rundle, outside hitter Missy Blackshire and Lampe. The UCSB Athletic Dept. also unveiled a gigantic picture of Rundle that will be hung in the entranceway of the Thunderdome.
Other than the pre-game festivities, the night was rather uneventful as Santa Barbara downed the Matadors easily 30-20, 30-19, and 30-20. Lampe tallied 10 kills and hit .444, Rundle dished out 35 assists to go with her four kills and nine digs, and Blackshire added 10 digs, a career-high for the transfer from Washington State.
“It was a very emotional night for everyone,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “It meant a lot for all of them to get to play the whole match and for our underclassmen to see what being a senior is all about. People take things for granted and to see all of our seniors out there, none of them ever take anything for granted. They have worked for everything that they have achieved.”