The UCSB’s women’s volleyball team broke even this weekend as they were swept 3-0 by Pacific (8-3 overall, 2-1 in Big West), before returning the favor against UC Davis (3-12 overall, 0-4 in Big West), sweeping the Aggies 3-0. With the victory, the Gauchos (6-10 overall, 1-3 in Big West) snapped their three-game conference losing streak.
The Gauchos started off the weekend at Pacific, in a match that was completely dominated by the Tigers. UCSB posted a season low .026 hitting average, with only 30 kills on 116 attempts and 27 errors. For the first time this season, not a single Gaucho notched double-digit kills. One positive for the Gauchos was the performance of freshman setter Dana Vargas, who had 23 assists, three kills, and two block assists. In game one, Pacific claimed 15 kills on 22 attempts for a .682 hitting average.
The Gauchos hit 10 kills to go along with 11 errors as Pacific easily took the game 30-16. Pacific’s momentum continued in game two as they committed only one error throughout the game to take a 23-13 lead. However, the Gauchos fought back and closed the game to within four points to make it 28-24, before the Tigers pulled the game out 30-25. Game three started in favor of the Tigers as they held an early lead at 10-3, but after Head Coach Kathy Gregory called a timeout, the Gauchos responded with a run to pull even at 16-16. From then on it was all Tigers as they once again pulled away and won 30-22.
“We were overmatched. The first game was the worst game we have played all year. It was awful, and our offense wasn’t there. We didn’t compete,” Gregory said. “[Pacific] is very physical, but we cannot afford to drop games and we did. It was disappointing, but it was a good learning experience. It showed us that we have to want to compete if we want to beat these high-caliber teams.”
Against the Aggies, the Gauchos did not have a look of previous defeat as they easily dominated all three games with sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno leading the way with 14 kills, 11 digs, a pair of aces and a hitting average of .265 in the match. Junior libero Leigh Stephenson tallied 21 digs, and senior captain and middle blocker Brett Quirarte finished with nine kills and six block assists.
Game one saw the Gauchos jump out to a 19-9 lead, before holding on for an easy 30-18 victory. Saraceno led the Gauchos early in game two with a pair of aces that put her team up 9-3. Santa Barbara posted a .359 hitting average in the game, as they won 30-17. The Aggies made the Gauchos work for game three, but in the end, a 5-0 run helped the Gauchos win 30-24 and clinch the sweep.
“We hit rock bottom when we played Pacific, but like I told my girls, once you hit rock bottom, you can only go up, and we did,” Gregory said. “Our offense was hitting where it was supposed to, and our defense was on target. However, just because we won doesn’t mean we will stop competing. We are still going to go out there and play with everything we’ve got.”
The Gauchos return home this week to host Cal State Fullerton (7-6 overall, 2-0 in Big West) for a conference match on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.