The #6 UCSB women’s volleyball team’s success has become so routine, the squad almost became boring.
Entering Wednesday night, the Gauchos cruised to a 23-0 record while boasting the nation’s longest current winning streak and a three-game Big West cushion to boot.
Wednesday night’s match in the Thunderdome against #10 Pepperdine University was neither routine nor boring.
The Waves (17-6 overall) prevailed over the Gauchos (23-1) in four games, 30-26, 26-30, 30-28, 30-18. The match may have possibly been the longest and craziest spectacle in the history of NCAA volleyball.
“I have never seen anything like this,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said.
When asked if she had ever even heard of a similar situation, Pepperdine Head Coach Nina Matthies said, “Not exactly.”
The Thunderdome, as did the rest of the campus, suffered a major power outage at 9:02 p.m. After the hour and forty-five minute delay, play resumed and Pepperdine walked away with the win.
Leading 2-1 and 22-11 in the fourth game, the power went out in the Events Center and left the crowd of 1,224 stunned. Most in attendance quickly headed for the exits when they were alerted that the outage was major, but some die-hard fans hung around for almost two hours.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Gregory and Matthies met with the officials and all sides agreed that they could not continue to wait, and that the match would be rescheduled. Immediately after the decision, Matthies walked out of the gymnasium with her team when the lights came back on.
“We were all walking towards the locker room,” sophomore Niki Carroll said. “Kathy had told us that the match was over, and as disappointed as we were, we knew that we could shake it off and that we needed to start thinking about Cal Poly on Saturday. We all thought it was over.”
The two teams then took 30 minutes to warm-up again and play was resumed. Santa Barbara put up a valiant attempt at a comeback. Ultimately, the 11-point deficit proved too much to overcome.
Up until the power outage, Santa Barbara’s play was marked by inconsistency with only flashes of the team that won 23 consecutive matches.
Reigning Big West Player of the Week Erica Menzel provided the limited highlights for UCSB. Menzel tallied a career-high 24 kills and followed up her 27 dig performance against Utah State last Saturday with 23 digs against the Waves.
At 11:27 p.m. the match finally ended – four hours and twenty-seven minutes after it had begun. Despite the power delay, Gregory refused to use that as an excuse for her team’s first loss of the year.
“I feel that we had some chances to win,” Gregory said. “There were some things that we just didn’t do, and by serving so poorly we made them look very good.”
But neither team looked good Wednesday night in the dark.