The UCSB women’s volleyball team (18-8 overall, 12-2 in the Big West) swept Davis to win its final home match of the season, and notch its 15th consecutive victory in Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos recorded their 14th win in their past 15 matches, going 30-22, 30-26, 30-23 against the Aggies (4-25 overall).
Santa Barbara started out with a commanding eight-point win over the Aggies in the first match, holding them to a .103 hitting clip. However, during the second match, the Gauchos had the chance to put away, serving with Davis trailing 29-19, but put the serve into the net. The Aggies put together an 8-0 run, until the Gauchos called a timeout and secured their second victory on the night behind one of junior outside hitter Janine Sandell’s kills.
“I don’t think we’re as prepared as we need to be,” UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “Tonight wasn’t one of our best matches. Davis played hard when we were ahead, and we shouldn’t be in a position to give up a 29-22 lead like that. Our offense wasn’t as good as it should have been.”
The Gauchos came around in the third set, recording a match-high .312 hitting percentage. Sandell led both squads with 20 kills on the night. Freshman outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin was close behind with yet another double-double, recording 11 kills and 11 digs.
Junior middle blocker Olivia Waldowski led all players, hitting .455 on the night, leading the Gauchos who hit .256 in all three sets. Not far behind was senior middle blocker Megan Blackshire, who ended her final career match in Santa Barbara hitting .333.
“It doesn’t feel real; it’s weird to have played my last game here,” Blackshire said. “I never really had expectations for [my career], in fact all my expectations have been exceeded in the past four years. I really have loved playing with my teams, and the squad this year was a bunch of really great girls.”
Junior libero Emily Hendrickson scooped a match-high 13 digs, equaling Davis freshman libero Nichole Brown.
The Gauchos began the night honoring Blackshire, who has been the only Gaucho to play on a conference champion team all four years.
“Megan is irreplaceable,” McLaughlin said. “She’s always bouncing off the court and working hard. Those are going to be big shoes to fill and hard to replace.”
Now the Gauchos will get ready to face Loyola Marymount tomorrow night and play in Long Beach’s tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, in hopes of securing a postseason spot.
“Loyola Marymount is going to be tough on the road,” Gregory said. “They’re going to be playing hard trying to get an NCAA berth. We need to play tough teams like these to prepare for the NCAAs.”
This weekend, the 49ers (23-5 overall, 12-2 in the Big West) earned a share of the Big West title with UCSB, winning both of their games. Since Long Beach has won more single sets in conference play than the Gauchos, it will receive the automatic berth into the playoffs.