Remember to thank your supreme being, lucky stars, whomever or whatever you show gratitude toward that we don’t have to go to class twice as much when our grades start slipping. If school were handled like UCSB women’s volleyball, a lot of us would be bumming in courses at 6:30 a.m. in addition to attending classes at their regular times.

Three losses in five games over the past two weeks have found the #19 Gauchos (10-3, 5-2 in the Big West) showing up to Rob Gym before dawn all week long on top of practicing in the afternoon as usual. That sounds very cruel to those who only see the late end of the a.m., but UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory and most of her team see it differently.

“It is not punishment, it’s an effort to get more improvement using more time,” Gregory said. “We did ‘double days’ to get us mentally more focused and so that we appreciate winning more by making sacrifices.”

Shoving precious sleep aside is something college students excel at. The volleyball team has the potential to reap more immediate and public rewards than a diligent student playing catch-up by pulling an all-nighter. Athletes must do both, however, and that has something to do with why the team found itself reeling after Idaho.

“[At the start of the season], we were working really hard, but then school starts and other obligations start setting in,” senior libero Kristin Nelson, who participates in the Delta Gamma sorority and is taking 20 units, said. “In double days, all your focus is on volleyball. We really needed to get back into the gym and realize why we’re here.”

There is no better time to revive the team’s focus than now, on the eve of what is undeniably the biggest home series of the season. Tomorrow night, the Irvine Anteaters (12-4, 5-2 in the Big West) visit the Thunderdome, followed by Long Beach State (13-2, 5-2 in the Big West) on Saturday night.

“We’re at a point where we can have a really good season or just a mediocre one,” senior setter Mari Bell said. “We’ve had more meetings this year than ever before, and we’ve stressed the importance of this weekend to prove to everyone that those losses were flukes.”

The early morning practices seem to have fulfilled their purpose and Santa Barbara is poised to shake the losing trend that has been with them for the past two weeks.

“We look fresh and we know how important these games are,” Gregory said. “Now we go play.”