The UCSB women’s volleyball team will be spending Halloween weekend away from the debauchery of Isla Vista, traveling to UC Davis for a match on Friday night and to Stockton on Saturday for a match against Pacific. Both matches will start at 7 p.m.
For the Gauchos, Saturday’s match against the Tigers is a chance to avenge their loss in the season opener at the Thunderdome, in which Pacific won by two points in the fifth set to clinch the match. Both teams share a 5-4 record in the Big West and are tied for fourth place with Cal State Fullerton, who beat the Gauchos in four sets last Friday. With an 8-1 conference record, Cal Poly (13-7 overall) holds first place in the conference, followed by 7-2 Long Beach State (18-4 overall) and 5-3 UC Irvine (10-11 overall).
“The conference is really balanced,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “But I feel that Cal Poly is the only team that has proven they are the best in the league. Pacific looked like they were gonna be great but they lost back to back matches — the teams that don’t back down from the pressure will win.”
The Gauchos swept UC Davis at the Thunderdome in their last meeting. The Aggies hold a 2-7 conference record, only ahead of 1-9 Cal State Northridge in the Big West standings.
“Davis is a much-improved team since we last played them,” Gregory said. “We know that both teams are good and capable of playing us.”
Last weekend, senior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin led the Gauchos with 3.57 kills per set. She was followed by junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno, who hit 3.43 kills per set. In early October, sophomore outside hitter Charlene DeHoog played two of her best matches of the season against Pacific and UC Davis, hitting 22 kills with a .362 clip in the loss to Pacific and 11 kills on a .786 hitting percentage against the Aggies.
“Rebecca’s serve is the best on the team,” Gregory said. “Her percentage doesn’t seem to be very good, but she gets big kills at the right time and her defense is improving.”
According to Gregory, the team will use the same 5-1 lineup they employed in the last two matches, although they might switch to the 6-2 if the need arises.
After this weekend, the Gauchos will play only one more road match this season against UC Irvine on Nov. 21. They play four more matches at home, their next two against conference-leading Cal Poly and Long Beach State on Nov. 7 and Nov. 13, respectively.