After clinching the Big West for the first time in school history and posting a #7 national ranking, there is yet another goal to cross off on the UCSB women’s volleyball’s 2002 laundry list – an undefeated spin cycle through the conference.
The Gauchos, 26-1 overall and 16-0 in the Big West, head into their last weekend of conference play. Tonight, Santa Barbara faces the University of the Pacific (16-10 overall, 11-5 in the Big West) at 7 in Stockton, in hopes of stepping closer to running the table in the Big West.
If UCSB can demolish Cal State Northridge on Saturday, the Gauchos will complete an 18-0 run in the conference to become the first team outside of Hawaii and Long Beach State to accomplish the feat. Five of the six Rainbow and 49er squads that have swept the Big West season made a trip to the Final Four.
Senior middle blocker Danielle Bauer needs 17 kills in this weekend’s twin bill to move into third place on the Gauchos’ all-time kills list. Bauer currently stands in fifth place with 1,460 kills. In a 3-0 sweep over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday, Bauer paced UCSB with 19 kills to lead the team in that category for the 18th time this year.
Senior setter Brooke Niles has recorded 1,152 assists this season, and needs only 23 more to move into Santa Barbara’s top ten list. Niles’ average of 14.05 digs a contest place her third in the nation, and she has recorded 50-plus assists nine times over the course of her career at UCSB. Niles recorded a career-high 59 assists during a 3-1 lashing against San Diego State on Aug. 31.
UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory (697-292) is also three wins shy of 700 big ones in her career. If the Gauchos win both their matches this weekend, Gregory could lasso her 700th match against #1 USC on Tuesday in the Thunderdome in the regular season finale.
UOP (16-10, 11-5) has lost six of 10 games to top-25 teams, yet the Tigers recently upended Idaho and Utah State on the road. Pacific has also dominated the all-time series at 41-15 despite receiving a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of the Gauchos on Sept. 21 when UOP was ranked #22.
Northridge (11-14, 5-11) has the unpleasant task of opening and closing its Big West competition against UCSB. The Gauchos lead the all-time series against the Matadors 13-2.
-Nexus Staff Report