The #5 UCSB women’s volleyball team enjoyed a two-match road sweep of Big West opponents this weekend, improving to 19-0 overall and 9-0 in the Big West.
The Gauchos battled Cal State Fullerton on Friday night at Titan Gymnasium, devouring the Titans 30-19, 30-26, 30-17. The Titans, however, remained at the bottom of the Big West, falling to a dreadful 4-17 overall and 0-8 in the conference.
On Saturday evening, Santa Barbara continued to steamroll its opponents by thrashing the University of California-Riverside in a three-game sweep 30-23, 30-12, 30-21 at the Student Recreation Center. By sweeping the Highlanders, the Gauchos won their 15th match in 2002 by bringing out the broomsticks.
In the Fullerton match, senior outside hitter Danielle Bauer propelled Santa Barbara with 19 kills and an astounding 12 kills in game two. Bauer also compiled 11 digs on the defensive side of the ball.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Guerra also emerged for UCSB. The Simi Valley native tallied 11 kills while hitting .556. Guerra also compiled a game-high 15 digs. Junior outside hitter Erica Menzel recorded 12 kills and 13 digs in the victory over Fullerton. Senior All-American candidate and setter Brook Niles collected assists on 37 sets while playing in only two games to pace Santa Barbara.
Against Riverside, UCSB extended its school-record matching winning streak to 19, to start the season. Santa Barbara struggled early in the match, with seven lead changes in the opening game. The Highlanders led 19-18 before the Gauchos drilled off eight consecutive points and put the game virtually out of reach for UCR.
In the second game, Santa Barbara jumped out to an 11-3 lead and never looked back. The Gauchos hit a solid .515 in the game.
In the final frame, the Gauchos refused to let go of the tourniquet they held on the Highlanders, by blitzing to a commanding 12-1 start. UCR freshman outside hitter Jamie DeKiewiet nailed six kills in the third game to help close the margin.
The Gauchos hit over .300 for the ninth time this season at a .369 clip in the match, limiting Riverside to .097 mark.
Menzel paced UCSB with 14 kills and 15 digs. Guerra collected 14 kills and 10 digs, as well. Niles, playing in only two games for the second match in a row, served up 31 assists and eight digs. Sophomore setter Mari Bell replaced Niles in the third game and registered a whopping 16 assists.
Santa Barbara returns home from the weekend sweep to prepare for #7 Long Beach State at the Thunderdome this Friday at 7 p.m. The Niners will look to avenge a heartbreaking five-game loss to the Gauchos at the Pyramid on Sept. 27. If UCSB wins, it will make the 24th 20-win season in school history and stay undefeated this year.
-Nexus Staff Report