The UCSB women’s volleyball team (12-7 overall, 7-1 in the Big West) continued its October tear, avenging its only conference loss, with a sweep over Cal Poly on Saturday night.
Racking up its eighth consecutive win, UCSB finished the Mustangs (13-5 overall, 6-3 Big West) off in a 30-27, 30-22 and 30-23 victory.
“I felt like we played very strongly tonight,” freshman outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin said. “We definitely had a home court advantage in here. Our whole strategy this time around was to take their libero out of the game. She hurt our team last month and we went hot serving outside and away from her. Plus we blocked really well against them this time.”
The first set was back and forth until the last eight crucial points on the Gaucho side of the net. Following two Cal Poly serving errors, junior outside hitter Jamie Garbisch gained control of the ball. In the middle of two long rallies finished off by double McLaughlin kills, UCSB scored five points behind Garbisch’s serves. Santa Barbara converted its second set point into a win after senior middle blocker Megan Blackshire laid down her biggest kill of the night.
“The turning point in the night for us was when [middle blocker] Olivia [Waldowski] came in and we started focusing more on blocking and we went on a big run behind [Garbisch’s] serves,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “At that point, the game could have gone either way, but we kept on a 5-0 run and ended up gaining control. That just goes to show you how no lead is safe in volleyball.”
Gregory said that the team has been aiming for a .300 hitting percentage on the year. Against Cal Poly, Santa Barbara went on a .182 hitting clip, but the Mustangs only dished out a .092 hitting percentage.
UCSB knocked down 11 blocks over the course of all three sets and ended each game behind Blackshire, junior outside hitter Janine Sandell and McLaughlin kills.
“We beat Cal Poly quickly and painlessly tonight,” Waldowski said. “They’re a good team and they played really well … we played so good in other areas other than hitting and we had consistent passing. But we got all those kills when we really needed them.”
The combination of McLaughlin hitting .361 with 15 kills and Sandell’s 19 putaways were Santa Barbara bests for the night.
McLaughlin and Sandell were the only two Gauchos to post double-doubles Saturday with 15-11 and 19-10, respectively. Junior libero Emily Hendrickson led UCSB with 14 saves.
Cal Poly tried to come close with the combination of senior outside hitter Vanessa Gilliam’s 10 putaways, second only to freshman outside hitter Kylie Atherstone knocking down 14 kills.
“Lauren was unbelievable,” Gregory said. “This was her biggest game of the year. Janine is the powerhouse on this team, and I think we’re starting to see that Lauren is just as important to this team.”