Bringing out the brooms last weekend not only gave the UCSB women’s volleyball team two more wins in the victory column, but also put a brand new spring in its step.
Santa Barbara’s boost will carry it into a two game road trip to Southern California, where Fullerton waits to take on the Gauchos (6-7 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) Friday night, followed by Riverside on Saturday.
“Last weekend was a huge confidence booster for us,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “Had we lost those two, our morale would be low. We know that every game is important and going on the road brings different teams to challenge us.”
Another interesting facet to this weekend’s match-ups is Santa Barbara’s current streak against the Titans (11-5, 3-0 Big West) and Highlanders (12-3, 1-2 Big West). The Gauchos have gone undefeated all-time against the two schools, riding a 53-game winning streak, in addition to its own two-game conference winning streak, into tonight’s match.
“Practices have definitely been feeling better,” junior outside hitter Janine Sandell said. “If people like Emily [Hendrickson] step up, then everyone seems to step up. We are more relaxed together and this is definitely something we’ve been waiting for.”
Although records of the past are stacked heavily in Santa Barbara’s favor, this weekend will be anything short of a walk in the park for the Gauchos. The Titans currently sit atop the Big West, while Riverside can boast the most overall wins in the conference. UCSB is currently tied for second place.
The challenge seems that much easier for UCSB with this week’s Big West Player of the Week, Sandell, on its side of the net.
Sandell was selected as the conference Player of the Week on Monday, after averaging 5.83 kills and 2.5 digs per game last weekend in the Gauchos’ two sweeps. She also posted a stellar .413 hitting percentage and is ranked third in the Big West with 4.91 kills per game overall.
“Janine is well-deserving of this honor,” Gregory said. “She’s been very consistent and has led the team in kills and her jump serve’s been on. If we want to get to the NCAA [playoffs] she’s going to have to have nights like that a lot, and she’s certainly capable of doing so.”
Gregory can brag about last weekend’s victory against Irvine, which was her 750th career win in her 31st year as UCSB’s head coach.
First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Fullerton, Calif.