The UCSB women’s volleyball team brought out their balls of fury in a big way last weekend, emphatically ending their six-match losing streak with three consecutive wins off by a 3-2 victory over #22 Santa Clara on the road.
After taking down Notre Dame 3-1 in the opening contest of the Santa Clara Invitational, the Gauchos (5-7 overall) found themselves in a 2-1 hole after hitting just .105 in game three against the host Broncos (7-5). Game four remained close until UCSB rallied to earn three straight points with the score tied at 27 to even the score to two games apiece before winning 30-28, 29-31, 21-30, 30-27, 15-12. Junior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin and sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno each tallied 18 kills to pace the Gaucho attack.
The luck of the Irish was nowhere to be found as UCSB dominated Friday’s match, winning 30-22, 27-30, 30-28, and 30-22. McLaughlin notched her ninth double-double, hitting .391 with 21 kills and 18 digs. Freshman setter Dana Vargas once again delivered a strong performance with 53 assists and freshman middle blocker Kasey Kipp had a team-high five blocks. The Fighting Irish had great performances by senior outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk with 14 kills, 21 digs, and three aces, but it was not enough to secure the win.
Riding a six-match losing streak, Santa Barbara found itself trailing St. Mary’s two games to none before fighting back with the help of senior middle blocker Brett Quirarte, who tallied a season-high 21 kills and hit at a .500 clip with four block assists. Saraceno posted 16 kills, three block assists, and seven digs and freshman setter Dana Vargas notched 56 assists as UCSB out-hit the Gaels .251 to .250 and won the battle of the block 13 to 9.5.
The Gauchos opened their season at the San Diego State University Aztec Invitational with a 3-2 loss against the Aztecs (9-2), but quickly rebounded and picked up back-to-back 3-1 wins against Long Island and Fairfield. McLaughlin hit .370 with 19 kills, 10 digs, six blocks and a service ace against Long Island, and her performance in the Aztec Invitational earned her the first Big West Player of the Week honors of 2007.
The Loyola Marymount and University of San Diego tournaments proved to bring much stiffer competition for Santa Barbara. UCSB was ousted in all six contests in the tournaments, winning only four games in the six matches. UNLV (9-1), LMU (7-5), and Northwestern (8-2) did the damage in the Four Points Sheraton LAX Classic, while #16 USD (7-4), Oklahoma (8-2) and Virginia (5-4) each had the Gauchos’ number in San Diego.
Santa Barbara will open the Big West season and have its home opener on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.