By Monique Moyal
In the midst of a six-game winning streak, the UCSB women’s volleyball team (10-7 overall, 6-1 in the Big West) is looking to ride some waves into its seventh consecutive victory tonight for a break from conference play.
Pepperdine (10-7 overall, 3-2 in the West Coast Conference) is coming off a sweep of Loyola Marymount University last Friday and hosts the Gauchos with a 4-3 record at home.
The Waves await tonight’s matchup with a fresh squad after only playing three sets this weekend, while Santa Barbara is coming off one of its busiest weekends, battling out seven decisive sets at home in victories over Northridge and Pacific.
“Volleyball is about winning three out of five, and you can’t expect to play only three games every weekend,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “I believe that even though we were ahead 2-0 [Saturday night], it doesn’t mean anything. The same goes for the match against Northridge. We just have to battle. … Since we played at home and didn’t have to travel, we shouldn’t be too fatigued. A five game match is good, because it’s never over ’til it’s over.”
Gaucho fans can be certain to count on a night of important milestones. Senior middle blocker Megan Blackshire is only one kill away from the 1,000th of her career and right behind her is junior outside hitter Janine Sandell with just two put-aways to go.
“It’ll be great when we get there,” Blackshire said. “It’s pretty exciting, but personal goals definitely come after team goals.”
Last weekend was the first time Sandell, who recorded 53 kills in two nights, served up more than 20 kills in one night since early September. The match should also prove exciting for the younger players like sophomore setter Ashley Dutro, who looks to top her weekend performance when she set a school record of 66 assists against Northridge last Friday. Freshman outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin put up 20 kills of her own to match Sandell’s mark against Northridge.
“The freshmen and sophomores are doing really well,” Blackshire said. “I think everyone’s improving and [McLaughlin] has a great head on her shoulders for a freshman. She’s been playing steadily and I’m really impressed with all of them.”
Pepperdine should put up a decent fight in attempts to halt UCSB who has gone undefeated thus far in October.
Freshman outside hitter Julie Rubenstein has recorded a team high 248 kills for the Waves on the season, with a .233 hitting clip. Junior middle blocker Sophia Milo is second on the team with 181 kills and holds the team-high hitting percentage at .352 on the year.
First serve is tonight at 7 in Malibu.