The UCSB women’s tennis team split a pair of nonconference matches this weekend in preparation for the all-important Big West Tournament, which kicks off later this week.

#35 Sacramento State cruised to victory 7-0 over Santa Barbara on Friday afternoon at the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, snapping UCSB’s four-match win streak. In addition to the team loss, Hornets #1 singles Margarita Karnaukhova, ranked #21 nationally, handed UCSB junior #1 singles Marielle Gruenig her first defeat at #1 singles in 16 straight attempts. The Gauchos bounced back Saturday afternoon to defeat Davis 6-1 at the Marya Welch Tennis Center and improve to 14-7 overall and 5-2 in conference heading into Friday’s Big West Tournament first-round match.

“[Sacramento State was] really good and by far the best team we’ve played this season. They were much better than [Pacific],” Gruenig said. “As for my loss, it’s not really a big deal. She’s a very good player and I’m happy that my streak was broken to somebody as strong as she is.”

Sacramento State swept the Gauchos to take the doubles point and won each singles match in straight sets. Junior #2 singles Chelsea Glynn, a key component to Santa Barbara’s surge toward the end of the season, lost 6-1, 6-1 to Hornets #2 singles Anna Erikson, ranked #75 nationally.

The Gauchos’ struggles continued early Saturday against the Aggies. After losing the doubles point 2-1, Santa Barbara ripped through Davis with four straight set singles wins to ruin the Aggies’ home finale. Junior #3 singles Andrea Pintar dismantled Audrey Wingo 6-1, 6-4. Davis #1 singles Ally Muller took the first set from Grunig but the 2005 Big West Player of the Year candidate rebounded by winning the second set 6-1 and blanking Muller 10-0 in the super tiebreaker.

“We played really poorly at the doubles point against Davis,” Gruenig said. “We’re not very concerned about it though for the playoffs because we’ve proven in the past that we can win matches after dropping the doubles point.”

Santa Barbara will compete at Indian Wells, site of the 2005 Big West Tournament, on Friday at 2 p.m. in its first-round game. The Gauchos will square off against the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between #7 Riverside and #10 Idaho. UCSB ripped Riverside 7-0 in its first game of the season Feb. 11.

“We’re not preparing for one team or the other,” Gruenig said. “All we can do is concentrate on our game in practice this week.”