The UCSB women’s volleyball team split matches again on the road this weekend, sweeping UC Davis 25-20, 25-15, 25-11 on Friday night before losing to Pacific 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 in Stockton on Saturday.

The Gauchos (10-12 overall) are now 6-5 in a tie for fifth place with Cal State Fullerton in the Big West. With the loss, Davis (11-13 overall) is now 3-8 in the conference and in seventh place. Pacific (7-13 overall) holds fourth place with a 7-4 record. With five matches to play, the Gauchos are running out of time to show they deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament.

“The way that our conference is going, I’m hearing they’ll probably take
a few teams to the playoffs,” Gaucho sophomore setter Dana Vargas said. “We are still really optimistic.”

This weekend, conference leader Cal Poly (13-9 overall) lost two matches in a row – getting swept by Pacific and losing to Davis in four sets, putting the team in second place at 8-3 behind 7-2 Long Beach State (18-4 overall). With Pacific and third-place UC Irvine handing the 49ers their only two losses of the season, the conference is unpredictable enough for the Gauchos to still be competitive in the Big West.

Against Pacific, the Gauchos collectively hit a .232 clip, with Vargas hitting a team-high .833 with 35 assists and three service aces. Junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno contributed ten kills, while sophomore outside hitter Charlene DeHoog hit 11 and senior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin hit 12. However, the Tigers had four players hit over 10 kills – including outside hitter Svenja Engelhardt’s, who hit 18 – and the team hit .336 overall. Their setter, Shannon Krug, hit 49 assists. UCSB is now 0-2 against the Tigers this season.

“We didn’t play badly; we didn’t get blown away,” Vargas said. “We were in it every [set], but Pacific outplayed us when it counted.”

Against Davis, the Gauchos hit .290 while the Aggies hit .031. Sophomore middle blocker Kasey Kipp led the Gauchos with a .538 hitting percentage. Davis had 22 more errors than the Gauchos, which might have factored into their second three-set loss to UCSB this season.

The Gauchos begin a three-game homestand on Friday against Long Beach State, followed by a match against Cal Poly on Nov. 13 and UC Irvine on Nov. 15. Both Long Beach and Cal Poly have beaten the Gauchos in their respective home gyms earlier this season. The match on Nov. 15 will be the Gauchos’ first against Irvine this season.

“We know what we have to do,” Vargas said. “Hope is not lost yet.”