For the UCSB women’s volleyball team, there is certainly more than one kind of wave to ride in Santa Barbara.
With two wins this weekend, the Gauchos (10-7 overall, 6-1 in the Big West) have now won their past 11 games in the Thunderdome and are currently riding a six-game conference win streak.
Friday night’s match against Northridge was the first game of the season where the Gauchos failed to complete a home sweep. Santa Barbara sent the Matadors (3-15 overall, 1-6 Big West) home in four games with a 30-26, 26-30, 30-16 and 30-24 victory. Against Pacific (9-9 overall, 3-3 Big West) the following night, UCSB seemed to be in control in the first two sets, but battled out a full five games to win 30-25, 30-19, 27-30, 28-30 and 15-12.
“We should have won in three, there’s no doubt about that,” junior outside hitter Janine Sandell said. “We played well and I don’t know what got to us, but UOP put up a good fight and we stuck with it.”
From the beginning of the first set against Pacific, the game looked fairly even. Both teams went back and forth until a tie at 18, when the Gauchos took the lead for the remainder of the game and won the set in a 5-0 run behind two of freshman outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin’s kills.
In the second set UCSB came from behind and ran away after a 9-9 tie when McLaughlin served up five unreturned points.
“Lauren does a lot for us defensively,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “And for a freshman, that’s unbelievable. Tonight was a good win for all of us.”
Sandell repeated McLaughlin’s run in the third set, when she laid down six unanswered points to erase Pacific’s lead.
In a combined weekend effort, Sandell racked up 53 kills and senior middle blocker Megan Blackshire threw down 25 kills. Sandell is now two put-aways from her 1,000th career kill, while Blackshire is only one away from the same mark.
“Offensively we did a great job out there tonight,” Gregory said. “We’re doing a much better job of distributing the ball, but we let up on our serving … in the two games we lost, we just made a couple of mistakes and lost by a few points. Things could have gone either way, but overall the night went well.”
In the third set, seven UCSB service errors gave Pacific a commanding lead it would not relinquish. Santa Barbara sent the Tigers home in the fifth set behind the arms of a few youngsters. Sophomore middle blocker Brett Quirarte dished out three early kills to give UCSB the lead while sophomore middle blocker Bethany Johansen pummeled the final kill, finishing the game.
“We had a lot of inconsistencies at the beginning of the year, but the [lowerclassmen] have really stepped up,” junior middle blocker Olivia Waldowski said. “They’ve been playing great roles on our team. Although all the experience might not be there, they’ve been helping out in a huge way and they’re on the way to being impressive players.”
On the weekend, sophomore setter Ashley Dutro scooped out 28 digs and recorded 121 assists while Johansen laid down kills at a .368 clip.
The Gauchos now hold a one-game lead at the top of the Big West and take a break in conference play tomorrow when they head to Pepperdine.