The first three years of Danielle Bauer’s career on the UCSB women’s volleyball team were marked with flashes of brilliance and a serious bout with inconsistency.

Yet, so far in her senior campaign, the middle blocker from Santa Ana has shed her sporadic tag and is now focused on becoming the key offensive component for a team that is attempting to make its first ever run to the Final Four.

“I think that having her back in the middle, where she is most comfortable, has helped her a lot,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “She is a much more mature player this year and now she has the power to hit a mixture of different shots.”

Power isn’t the only thing that Bauer has more of this year: She also has more accolades to hang in her trophy case.

On Monday, Bauer was awarded her second Big West Player of the Week award in the past four weeks. This past weekend was one of the finest ever for Bauer as she hit a combined .404 against Big West rival UC Irvine and the then No. 6 Long Beach State. The 5’11” senior had 23 and 21 kills, respectively, in the matches.

And it is not just the accolades that have become more consistent for Bauer this season. Both Bauer’s offensive and defensive statistics have leveled out as well. In just 13 matches this season, Bauer already has nine double-doubles in kills and digs.

In addition to her play, Bauer’s influence on the younger players on the team this year has been invaluable.

“It is an honor to play with her,” freshman middle blocking sensation Megan Blackshire said. The first year player from Capistrano Beach said that she is amazed by “[Bauer’s] jumping skills and how smart she is.”

“She has great athletic ability, and her defense is also outstanding.”

Even with all of the praise that has been directed her way this season, Bauer has managed to maintain her humble persona.

“I wouldn’t get kills without my teammates’ digs and their passing,” Bauer said. “For me, this year is all about how far our team goes. That is the only thing I am focused on. We have never been to the Final Four, and that is where I want this team to end up this year.”

Although it is too early in the season to start predicting postseason awards, Gregory feels that Bauer is on track to have one of the finest middle blocking seasons in UCSB history.

“She is playing as well for us this year as Judy Bellomo and Katie Crawford did when they were seniors, and they were both first team All-Americans who played in the middle,” Gregory said. “It is not surprising that she is considered one of the top hitters in the country.”