After back-to-back losses to Cal State Northridge (4-10 overall, 1-1 Big West) and Long Beach State (7-5, 1-1), the UCSB women’s volleyball team is looking to pick up its first league victory as it heads out on the road this weekend to play Pacific (7-3, 1-1) and UC Davis (3-10, 0-2).
The trip might be just what the Gauchos (5-9, 0-2) need as their last road weekend produced three straight wins. Although their home stand against the 49ers and the Matadors did not turn out as hoped, Head Coach Kathy Gregory is confident her team is ready for upcoming challenges.
“[Pacific] has improved this year, and they will be a tough team to play,” Gregory said. “As a team, we want more consistency and we want to be able to compete and give 100 percent of our effort, and I believe we will. Throughout the week, we have been doing intense defensive and offensive drills that will help us capture wins.”
The Gauchos will have to bring their A-game as both weekend opponents have been playing well recently, especially the Tigers, who recently saw a six game winning streak snapped. UCSB may have the upper edge as they have won five straight matches against Pacific.
The Aggies started their first Big West season with consecutive losses extending their losing streak to six games going into the game against the Gauchos. Despite their lack of success, Gregory knows that Davis is looking to make a statement against a traditional conference powerhouse.
“[Davis] is new to the conference, so they will be gunning for us,” Gregory said. “Santa Barbara has always been respected and our teams in the past have had a high caliber status so people want to be beat us because we have beat them in the past.”
The Gauchos have all the means to capture a pair of wins as they are led by senior captain and middle blocker Brett Quirarte who leads the Big West with an impressive .382 hitting clip. Against Northridge, Quirarte tallied a career high seven digs with 14 kills, three solo blocks, and a .385 hitting average. Right behind Quirarte is junior co-captain and outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin. McLaughlin is averaging 4.12 kills per game and a .219 hitting average.
Tonight’s game in Stockton is set to begin at 7, while tomorrow’s contest is slated for a 7 p.m. start in Davis.