Like a delicious cherry pie coming fresh out of the oven, #18 UCSB (23-3 overall, 16-2 in the Big West) has spent an extended amount of time in intense heat, but must cool off for a bit before meeting its fate. The Gauchos throttled the Aggies (2-23) in three games Sunday in Davis, but must wait until Nov. 28 to discover when and where they will play in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
Santa Barbara never let UCD into the match, not once trailing after the number “10” had registered on the scoreboard; the Gauchos triumphed 30-19, 30-21, 30-20. The Gauchos tallied their 13th consecutive victory, their longest string since 2002, and shook their trend of sluggish starts by winning their most decisive game one in two weeks.
UCSB sophomore outside hitter Jamie Garbisch had the night of her life, notching career-highs with 13 kills and six service aces. Garbisch added six digs to cap off the most complete effort on the court for either team.
“Jamie had her best game serving and hitting,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “The team started off well, and was looking good for having taken a six-hour road trip.”
Fellow sophomore outside hitter Janine Sandell earned her fourth straight double-double with 10 kills and 19 digs, marking the first time that senior libero Kristin Nelson did not lead the squad in scoops this season when her name appeared in the lineup. Nelson still managed 16 digs and became the Big West record-holder with 1691 career digs.
Her next landmark stands at 1871 digs to creep into the NCAA top 25 all-time, but that figure would require that the Gauchos win the national championship with every match going five games at Nelson’s current pace of 6.06 digs per game.
“We’re going to have to be prepared for teams not serving Kristin,” Gregory said. “[After the break] we’ll have a four-hour practice on Saturday and a three-hour practice on Sunday; we’re going to be prepared.”
Davis senior libero Mary McClelland led all players with 24 digs to become the all-time Aggies leader in scoops, and sophomore middle blocker Kate Wilson responded to the call to start the match with eight kills and 13 digs.
The NCAA Tournament selection show takes place Sunday afternoon, and the Gauchos will be eagerly awaiting the revealing of their seeding, following a well-deserved two-day break from practice.
“The team’s excited to have Thanksgiving with their families,” Gregory said. “Who knows where [the NCAA] will put us? That’s the $64,000 question right now.”