This weekend, the UCSB women’s volleyball team finishes its Big West season at Cal State Northridge today and at UC Riverside tomorrow. Santa Barbara (16-11 overall, 9-5 Big West) can clinch second place in the Big West with two wins.
“We’re in a good situation,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “We can control our own games … we realize our goal is to finish in second.”
A win against third place Northridge (14-12, 8-6) would give the Gauchos their longest win streak of the season at five matches. UCSB defeated the Matadors in their first meeting this season, 3-0 on Nov. 9 with set scores of 25-16, 25-21, and 25-20. UCSB has won its last three matches in straight sets.
“Northridge didn’t play their best up here,” Gregory said. “They’re a much better team at home; they only lost to [first place] Long Beach State. They didn’t pass extremely well last week and we did … we know how tough of a match it’s gonna be.”
Santa Barbara had more kills (48-33), more assists (45-31), and had a better hitting percentage than Northridge (.224-.116) last Wednesday, and is hoping to have a similar performance tonight.
“We just have to play like we did [last week],” senior libero Chelsey Lowe said.
The Gauchos will then travel to Riverside (7-21, 4-10) and try to spoil the Highlanders’ senior night. Despite being tied for last place in the conference, Riverside defeated Santa Barbara the first time they met on Oct. 15, 3-2. One telling stat from that match is that Riverside, which ranks last in the conference in digs, had more digs (79-76) than UCSB, which ranks first in the conference in that category.
“We cannot get overconfident and take for granted our next competitors,” senior middle blocker Lily Lopez said. “[Our win streak] gives us a lot of confidence and we know how well we can play, but we gotta stay focused and finish off the season right.”
In the loss to Riverside, the Gauchos won the first two sets 27-25, 25-15 and were one point away from victory before the Highlanders came back to take the final three sets: 27-25, 25-19, 15-12, so UCSB is hoping to redeem itself in Saturday’s rematch.
We’re disappointed that we gave the [last] game away,” Gregory said. “We wanna finish [the Big West] with a win. You don’t wanna lose to a team twice.”
Match times are at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.