The #13 UCSB women’s volleyball team’s up-and-down season hit a bump in its final week of preseason play as #7 Pepperdine trounced the Gauchos.

The Waves easily handled Santa Barbara in three games last Wednesday, 30-24, 30-21, 30-24. The Gauchos then took out their frustration on unranked Cal Poly on Saturday, 30-28, 25-30, 30-26, 30-22, to win their 20th consecutive Big West match.

Santa Barbara (5-4, 1-0 in the Big West), winless in Malibu since 1994, struggled throughout game one, committing 11 attacking errors and hitting for a negative percentage. Pepperdine didn’t do much better, hitting a measly .167 in the first frame. The Waves (10-2, 0-0 in the WCC) ran away with the second game, hitting a match-high .295 and holding the Gauchos to a .163 hitting percentage. UCSB took its first lead of the evening in game three, ahead 15-10 when Waves Head Coach Nina Matthies called a timeout to stop the momentum. Four consecutive Pepperdine points later, UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory countered with a timeout of her own, but that didn’t stop the bleeding as the Waves embarked on an 11-2 run to put away the game to seal their fourth straight victory over Santa Barbara.

All told, four of Pepperdine’s attackers registered 10 kills or more, and the Waves out-dug the Gauchos, 62-43. UCSB senior outside hitter Erica Menzel recorded 12 kills and 10 digs in the losing effort, while junior libero Kristin Nelson and freshman outside hitter Emily Hendrickson each reached double digits in digs.

Weary of nine straight games on the road to open the 2003 season, the Gauchos traveled to Mott Gym in San Luis Obispo to face the Mustangs (7-4, 0-1 in the Big West), one of four Big West teams to compete in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Gaucho sophomore Megan Blackshire and freshman Olivia Waldowski, both middle blockers, set career highs in kills to lead the Gaucho attack while Nelson fell just one scoop short of her career high to pace the Gaucho defense.

The Gauchos return to the Thunderdome on Friday night at 7, ready for UC Riverside (6-6, 1-1 in the Big West). The Highlanders, a Big West foe, will be Santa Barbara’s first home opponent of the 2003 season.