The UCSB women’s volleyball team finishes off its four-game road trip against Pacific on Friday, followed by a match at UC Davis on Saturday.
“It would be great to finish off this road trip with a couple of wins,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said.
Santa Barbara (10-8 overall, 4-1 Big West) heads into the weekend ranked #46 in the nation, up five spots from last week. Ranked as the third highest team in the Big West, UCSB trails only #26 Long Beach State and #28 Cal State Fullerton.
Pacific (10-8, 3-3) is in sixth place in the Big West and is ranked #85 in the country. Last season, UCSB beat the Tigers 3-2 at home before being swept by Pacific on the road. Pacific’s Head Coach Greg Gibbons served as Santa Barbara’s Associate Head Coach for the past four seasons.
“It’s going to be fun facing [Greg],” Gregory said. “Pacific is very solid defensively — especially at home — so we are going to have to up the tempo of our serving and offense.”
UC Davis (12-6, 4-2), which the Gauchos swept last year, enters the weekend ranked #77 in the country and is tied for third in the conference with Cal Poly.
“Against a great blocking team like Davis, we are going to have to spread the ball around on offense effectively,” Gregory said.
That should not be a challenge for the Gauchos who, despite being tied for first place in the Big West, currently boast no hitters in the top 10 in kills. Santa Barbara has been led by senior outside hitter Charlene DeHoog with 211 kills, followed by junior middle blocker Stacey Schmidt, with 210 kills and freshman outside hitter Kara Sherrard with 139. Schmidt also ranks sixth in the conference with a .335 hitting percentage overall.
This is a testament to the team’s depth and senior setter Dana Vargas’ ability to spread the wealth on offense. Vargas ranks fourth in the conference with 10.4 assists per set and 720 total assists.
Santa Barbara is averaging 15.17 digs per set, good for third in the conference. Freshman libero Kelley Heenan leads the Gauchos with 3.42 digs per set, which ranks eighth in the Big West.
“We are coming in prepared and ready to play,” Gregory said. “On the road in Big West play, anything can happen.”