The No. 7 UCSB women’s volleyball team is coasting after another weekend of undefeated, record-setting play.
After sweeping conference foes Utah State and Idaho on back-to-back nights in the Thunderdome, Santa Barbara will now shift its attention to a nonconference match-up with rival Loyola Marymount University.
“LMU is a well-coached team and they always come to play,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We are well aware of the fact that they have some outstanding hitters and they have a very balanced attack. We are going to have to respect that.”
LMU currently stands at 11-3 in the season, but they have yet to play a team of Santa Barbara’s caliber.
Loyola Marymount’s only two wins over teams receiving even a hint of national recognition came against Colorado and Notre Dame. The Lions downed the Fighting Irish in five games and needed just four games to polish off the Buffaloes. It should be noted, however, that Colorado and Notre Dame received just two and five votes each in last week’s national poll. In contrast, UCSB received 1,241 votes.
When asked if she felt that her team might look past tonight’s match-up against the Lions, senior outside hitter Courtney Guerra said, “Absolutely not. They played us hard last year and we expect the same. We know that since we are ranked so high that teams are going to be gunning for us and we are going to have to be ready.”
The Lions’ main offensive threat is Kristen Gallup, a senior outside hitter from Mission Viejo, Calif. Gallup was an All-West Coast Conference First Team selection last year while posting 4.81 kills per game, good enough for 15th best in the nation.
UCSB (15-0 overall, 6-0 in the Big West) holds a decisive 23-4 record against the Lions, but LMU won the last contest between the two teams last October 30-19, 30-21, 30-28.
“We are just trying to take every team one at a time,” freshman middle blocker Megan Blackshire said. “We are not overconfident because we know that we still haven’t played our best match yet.”
If what Blackshire says is true, then the rest of the Big West had better look out. Even though they have yet to drop a match, Santa Barbara has been steadily improving all season. If it continues to improve at this rate, the final stop for this team should be a place it has never been before: the Final Four.