Undefeated early in the season and coming off an unplanned nine-day break, the #8 UCSB women’s volleyball team will travel to the Inland Empire today and tomorrow to play Riverside and Fullerton, both unranked.
“We’re a little stale. [The break] might affect us a little,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We just need to be prepared.”
Although freshman Ashley Dutro and senior Mari Bell have been sharing time at the setter position, Bell is slated to start. Still, Gregory plans on playing Dutro as well. By having two setters, Gregory can run a 6-2 offense with six hitters and two setters available at all times.
“We have a little more depth than we had last year,” Gregory said.
Dutro was recently named MVP of the Golden Bear Invitational after averaging 12.5 assists and 3.17 digs per game.
Neither Riverside nor Fullerton has ever handed Santa Barbara a loss. The Highlanders (0-1 in Big West, 8-3 overall) are coming into Friday’s match having suffered sweeps at Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State, ending an eight-match win streak. However, junior outside hitter and Big West Player of the Week Jamie DeKiewiet is a potential threat to the Gauchos.
“They have a very good outside so we’re going to key in on her and try to stop her,” Gregory said.
Fullerton (0-2 in Big West, 6-4 overall) currently boasts the second-best block in the Big West and a strong serve.
“They are much improved,” Gregory said. “These are dangerous teams to play on the road where they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”