The UCSB women’s volleyball team has just one game this Halloween weekend, and it’s against rival Cal Poly. Santa Barbara this year holds a record of 12-12 and is tied for fourth place in the Big West with a 5-4 conference record. Cal Poly, however, is just 3-18 and 2-7 in the Big West.
The Mustangs enter the game the hottest they have been all season, however. They had been in a program worst 15- game losing streak until last weekend. Cal Poly defeated Riverside last Friday in five sets for its first conference win of the year, along with a victory over Fullerton the following night.
“We definitely will not be taking them lightly since they beat Fullerton,” junior outside hitter Leah Sully said. “We know they are a good team and things just have not gone their way. Kathy has been saying how much they are improving so we are definitely going to treat it like a big game.”
Junior middle blocker Megan McConnell led the Mustangs to victory and captured Big West Player of the Week due to her play last weekend, an honor a Gaucho has yet to receive this year. McConnell had 23 kills, 26 digs, 14 blocks and had a .346 hitting percentage over the weekend. Four different players racked up double digit kills for the Mustangs against Fullerton, showing their multi-faceted attack.
“They have a lot of weapons because they are playing a 6-2 offense so they will always have three hitters,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory said. “For us to be successful, we are going to
have to play good three hitter defense all night, we will need a good offensive night and were going to have to serve.”
UCSB had the same opponents as Cal Poly last weekend and split the matches, dropping to Fullerton in five sets and defeating Riverside in four. The loss to Fullerton came on a night that junior opposite Katey Thompson had to sit with a knee injury, but she returned Saturday and seems to be healthy moving forward.
This is the second meeting this year between the two teams. The first came on Sept. 29 when Santa Barbara took the win on the road in three sets. Thompson recorded 15 kills and three service aces, so her presence on the court will be quite a boost to the Gaucho offense. Cal Poly could not amount much of anything against the Santa Barbara defense last month. No Mustang recorded double-digit kills and as a team they hit just .123.
“We can’t really look at what happened last time. Every time we play a match it’s a new game,” Thompson said. “You can’t rely on exactly what happened the last time, because since then, they have watched a lot of tape and have studied us much more.”
The Gauchos will play host where they are 4-4 this year. The Mustangs are 0-8 on the road this year and have no wins away from home, so before heading out to an Isla Vista style Halloween weekend, stop by the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. to see UC Santa Barbara take on rival Cal Poly.