Despite picking up a win last week against UC Riverside (5-14 overall, 1-7 Big West), the UCSB women’s volleyball team dropped both of their road games this weekend, getting swept by Long Beach State (13-6 overall, 7-2 Big West) 3-0 and losing in five games to Cal State Northridge (8-14 overall, 5-5 Big West) 3-2. This marks the second time this season that the Gauchos (7-14 overall, 2-7 Big West) have been beaten consecutively by both teams.
Long Beach, who extended their winning streak to seven games, opened game one by taking an 8-2 advantage. Long Beach’s momentum would continue to dominate the match as they added 12 additional points to make it 20-6. The 49ers took game one with a 30-14 win. Senior middle blocker Alexis Crimes led the 49ers with 15 kills, nine digs and a .419 hitting clip throughout the game. Junior setter Nicole Vargas had 37 assists and three service aces. Senior middle blocker Michaela Hasalikova led the 49ers with her impressive .500 hitting average, eight kills and six blocks.
“We didn’t compete at Long Beach, and it hurt us that we weren’t ready for the first game,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We did recuperate in the second game and fought back, but it was ugly. We didn’t play good enough and it cost us. We got what we deserved.”
Game one must have been a wake-up call for the Gauchos as they came into game two with retaliation in mind. The Gauchos fought hard and forced Long Beach into several ties, with the final game point keeping both teams tied at 29. The 49ers finished the game in dramatic fashion as Crimes notched a kill and Hasalikova executed a block for a 31-29 win. The Gauchos saw great performances from freshman middle blocker Kasey Kipp who hit a .308 clip and made seven kills on 13 attempts. Freshman setter Dana Vargas recorded 31 assists and junior libero Leigh Stephenson got a team high of 15 digs. The final game had the Gauchos and 49ers tied at six until Long Beach went on a 5-0 run en route to a 30-17 victory.
Although the Gauchos lost to the Matadors, junior co-captain and outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin had a fantastic night at the Matadome, recording 20 kills, 18 digs and four blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno notched a double-double with 16 kills and 10 digs. The Matadors were led by freshman outside hitter Alex Johnson, who notched 17 kills, nine digs and five blocks. Sophomore setter Angela Hupp recorded a double-double with 10 put-ways and 12 digs to go along with nine blocks. UCSB took game one with a 30-21 win but the Matadors fought back and took game two 30-16.
“Not getting the tips in the games is what is hurting us, and this is what could have given us game five,” Gregory said. “For [Northridge], we were ready and we played hard. We gave it everything we got, but they were better at blocking and hitting. Playing a 6-2 has been helping us win games, and for this match, it helped us claim games and could have helped us win the final game if we didn’t make so many offensive errors.”
After four back and forth games, the Gauchos led 10-8 midway through the deciding fifth frame. However, the Matadors would not back down and hit a 4-0 run to take a 12-10 lead. Johnson contributed greatly for the Matadors by notching a kill, followed by a block, a service ace and another block. The Gauchos continued to fight with a kill by Saraceno to make it 13-11. CSUN delivered the final blow with two straight points to take game five and the match.
The Gauchos return to the Thunderdome on Oct. 26th to play UC Davis (3-18 overall, 0-9 Big West) followed by a match against Pacific (13-5 overall, 6-3 Big West) on Oct. 27th.