The 19th-ranked UCSB women’s volleyball team was sent off in a winning fashion during its final homestand, defeating Idaho in four games Friday and completing a sweep of Utah State on Saturday.
The weekend play extended the Gauchos’ winning streak to nine games and their record to 19-3 overall, 13-2 in the Big West.
On Friday, UCSB dealt a loss to Idaho, after losing to the Vandals on Oct. 9. The Gauchos won the match 30-22, 30-20, 32-34 and 30-23.
“We dominated in the first two games,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “In the third we made a lot of offensive errors, but had a great comeback in the fourth. Idaho played well, but we withstood the pressure.”
During the third game, Gregory called a timeout with the Gauchos trailing 21-25. UCSB responded with six points, prompting the Vandals to call their own timeout. Santa Barbara could not hold on to game three, however, losing its longest game of the season.
Junior middle blocker Megan Blackshire had one of her best matches against Idaho, recording a season-high 21 kills, the most from any player on the night.
“I never notice how I’m doing,” Blackshire said. “I was surprised to see how well I did, because I never really know until after a game. It’s really exciting.”
Saturday was the last home game of the season and Senior Night for the Gauchos as well. UCSB completed a sweep over Utah 30-18, 30-14 and 30-14. The Gauchos also held Utah to the lowest-scoring game out of any opponent in 2004, with two games of only 14 points.
“It was an emotional night,” Gregory said. “The seniors played exceptionally well, but Utah had lots of injuries. It was not the same team we’ve always seen, so they didn’t put up much of a fight.”
Despite the number of injuries on the Aggie roster, the three Gaucho seniors proved their presence. Senior libero Kristin Nelson had 19 digs, bringing her career total to 1,582 and putting her at third place in UCSB history, only 38 digs shy of first. Senior setter Mari Bell had a match-high 43 assists, and senior outside hitter Amy Sarkaria had a personal-best seven kills for the night.
“We’ll definitely be hit when the three seniors leave,” sophomore middle blocker Olivia Waldowski said. “It will be hard to find leaders, because they contributed to our great chemistry. Those are big shoes to fill.”
With only three games left in league, UCSB looks to continue winning.
“Anyone could step it up,” Blackshire said. “The next three teams are going to give us a good match, so we need to keep it up.”