The UCSB women’s volleyball team has won its second match in a row by 3-0, defeating Cal State Northridge last night. The Gauchos improve to 15-11 overall and 8-5 in the Big West, where they have sole possession of second place, while Northridge drops to 13-12 and 7-6.
“This was a good team but we … sort of dominated in certain areas,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “I told them, don’t get timid out there. This is the kind of team where you really have to defend … I think we set the tone with [senior libero Chelsey Lowe] playing so well.”
Lowe recorded 26 digs, moving up to ninth place on UCSB’s all-time list with 1,315 in her career.
“We really controlled the game,” Lowe said. “We were good at not letting them get long rallies against us, and we were good at keeping our errors down and making them make the mistakes.”
In the opening set, UCSB took its first lead at 4-3 and did not give it back. Tied at nine apiece, a kill by sophomore outside hitter Leah Sully started an 11-3 run to give the Gauchos a 20-12 advantage, as they controlled the second half of the set. Up 24-16 for game point, senior right side Stacey Schmidt had one of her 12 kills to secure a 25-16 win.
“We knew we could beat them by a lot,” senior middle blocker Lily Lopez said. “It’s just the small little things we needed to make sure we did right so. We really wanted to execute and stay on top of our game and not give them any hope.”
The second set played out similarly, as the Matadors scored first, but then Santa Barbara went on a 7-1 run and did not give up the lead. A kill by Lopez made it 10-5 and the Gauchos maintained a five-point lead for most of the rest of the way. Sophomore outside hitter Kara Sherrard’s kills increased the lead to 22-16, and later brought it to 24-19. Northridge scored the next two points, but an attack error gave UCSB a 25-21 win.
Looking to close out the match in the third set, UCSB fell behind early and were forced into taking a timeout. The refocused Gauchos quickly came back to tie it at 6-6 with a kill by Sully and a Northridge attack error. With the score tied 9-9, another attack error by the Matadors gave the Gauchos their first lead. Northridge fought back, and was up 15-13 when a kill by Schmidt sparked a 9-3 run for Santa Barbara and a 22-18 lead. Northridge did not get much closer, and a Sherrard service ace at match point finished it at 25-20.
“We’re not as tense as we were at the beginning of the season,” Lowe said. “We have a lot of good team chemistry on the court. We’re having a ton of fun playing … when we have fun, we play well together.”
The Gauchos play their last home game of the season on Saturday against Cal Poly, where Lowe, Schmidt and Lopez will be honored for senior night.
The last meeting between the two teams ended with a 3-2 win for the Mustangs at Cal Poly. UCSB fell 25-13, 17-25, 25-16, 29-31 and 15-13 throughout the match, and were bested by four Cal Poly players with double-digit kills.
Sully led the UCSB attack with 16 kills and 25 digs, while Sherrard garnered a double-double with 14 kills and 17 digs.
The Mustangs are currently on a three-game losing streak, and have a 6-2 record at home this year. The Gauchos hold a 4-6 road record playing away from the Thunderdome this season.
Match time for the latest edition of the Blue-Green rivalry is 7:30 p.m. in the Thunderdome.