In a weekend when the UCSB women’s volleyball team had a chance to gain ground in the competitive Big West Conference, the Gauchos were upset by Cal State Fullerton 25-23, 25-13, 15-25, 25-14 on Friday before sweeping Cal State Northridge 25-21, 25-12, 25-22 on Saturday, splitting in their second weekend at home and maintaining a fourth place, 5-4 record in the Big West.
Cal State Fullerton and Pacific now share fourth place with the Gauchos (9-11 overall), who swept all three opponents they have beaten in October and split matches in all three weekends this month. For the second weekend in a row, the Gauchos have lost on Friday and won on Saturday.
“We aren’t trying to lose, then sweep and play well,” sophomore setter Dana Vargas said. “It’s a pattern we should break out of.”
The Gauchos are now 2-0 against Cal State Northridge (6-17 overall). In the first set in Saturday’s match, they held a 17-9 lead before the Matadors went on an 11-4 run to bring the score to 21-20. Gaucho sophomore outside hitter Charlene DeHoog hit a cross-court kill, sophomore middle blocker Kasey Kipp blocked a Northridge spike and the Northridge front line allowed a ball to drop to make the score 24-20. Freshman middle blocker Lily Lopez missed a serve at the net to make the score 24-21, but junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno hit a kill to put the set away.
“Everyone stayed calm when [Northridge] started coming back,” Kipp said. “We were like, ‘We’re not going to let them get this.'”
The Matadors only tied the match four times in the three sets. Their only lead came in the beginning of the third set, but the Gauchos tied the score at 4-4. Kills by senior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin and junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno turned a 4-4 tie a 6-4 lead that the Matadors were never able to overcome. Northridge now holds a 1-9 record in the Big West, putting them in last place in the conference. McLaughlin led the Gauchos on Saturday with 13 kills on 36 attempts for a .278 clip. Vargas contributed 30 assists.
“We had fun and played together [Saturday] – and it worked,” DeHoog said. “Yesterday we were really tense – we couldn’t get back into it.”
With Friday’s loss, the Gauchos are 1-1 in the season series against Fullerton. They were dominated by the Titans’ senior outside hitter Brittany Moore, who hit 27 kills on 51 attempts with one error for a .510 hitting percentage. She also contributed ten digs, leading all players with 29.5 total points. Saraceno led the Gauchos with 14 kills – eight in the first set – on a .275 hitting percentage with two service aces on Friday night. She had 10 kills on Saturday.
“Becca’s a junior, so she’s a player we depend on,” Vargas said. “She’s been playing really well the last two matches.”
The Gauchos will spend Halloween weekend up north, playing at UC Davis on Friday night and at Pacific on Nov. 1. The team is 1-0 against Davis, who holds a 2-7 record in the Big West, and 0-1 against Pacific, who beat the Gauchos in five sets at the Thunderdome on Oct. 3.