Pepperdine (14-7 overall) may have brought the brooms to the Thunderdome, but the UCSB women’s volleyball team is ready to pick up another conference victory against Cal State Fullerton (11-11 overall, 5-5 in the Big West) after winning two consecutive matches against conference foes over Halloween weekend. The Gauchos (9-15 overall, 4-7 Big West) will head out into Titan territory in their quest to make waves in the Big West race.
During the Pepperdine game, the Gauchos saw great performances from senior captain and middle blocker Brett Quirarte who led UCSB with 14 kills and a .370 clip, and freshman setter Dana Vargas with 24 assists and six digs. Junior libero Leigh Stephenson tallied 18 digs throughout the match while freshman middle blocker Kasey Kipp notched five block assists.
“It’s great to see everyone playing better,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “However, I need my outside hitters to be more consistent. They keep hurting us because they are not consistent, but they have been practicing, so I expect the best. We are getting more depth and that is good because there are no easy games in this division.”
The fourth place Titans handed UCSB a heartbreaking five-game loss on Oct. 6 at the Thunderdome and will be looking to do it again. The Titans will look to junior middle blocker Brittany Moore who leads the Titans with 4.32 kills per game average and 2.84 digs per game. Freshman middle blocker Erin Sadler leads Fullerton with her .277 hitting average and 1.11 blocks per game. For the Gauchos, a chance for revenge will be on their minds. UCSB leads the all-time series at 52-2, and the race for Big West is still up for grabs.
“Fullerton will be gunning for us, which I actually like,” Gregory said. “It takes pressure off from us because we don’t have to beat them, they have to beat us. We are the underdogs, so that gives us even more incentive to pick up a win. I firmly believe we are capable of beating anyone we face. We have the talent, but our consistency is not there. I hope this weekend we can pull it together and get the job done. Everyone is fighting for the crown and we are just looking to upset a few teams in the making. We need everyone to pull their own weight to win.”
UCSB will look to junior co-captain and outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin and Quirarte to lead the Gauchos to victory. McLaughlin leads the Gaucho squad with her 4.34 kills per game average, which is also second among Big West players. McLaughlin is also 75 kills from reaching 1000 career kills. Quirarte leads UCSB with her .324 hitting clip, good for sixth in the conference.
Tonight’s opening serve will be at 7 p.m. in Fullerton.