The UCSB women’s volleyball team is packing up for its trip against Hawaii this Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Having been one of only four Big West teams to play seven games so far this season, UCSB currently holds sixth place in the division and 4-3 in Big West and 9-9 overall as they prepare to play third place Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are entering their sixth conference game at 4-2 Big West and 12-5 overall.
“Hawaii has such a rich tradition of a successful volleyball team, so that should be of great motivation to get ourselves ready,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “We are going to be playing in an exciting environment so we have that to look forward to as well.”
Hawaii’s versatile junior middle blocker Olivia Magil is currently leading the league in hitting percentage and blocks per set as she swings for a .400 average, and puts up on average 1.49 blocks per set.
Previous Big West Freshman of the Week honoree, outside hitter Chanel Hoffman spearheads the Gaucho attack with 151 total kills and 190 points so far this season.
Both teams entered this season with a young team, filling seven of their roster spots with freshmen after each finished last season in a three-way tie for the Big West title.
“Hawaii looks a little different than they did last year; they have definitely some big players on their team,” Lantagne Welch said. “They did lose their leader from a year ago and are trying to make that up by committee now. I think when they’re playing good they are a really good team.”
Hawaii falls behind only Long Beach State in total blocks this year in the conference as they have recorded 182 blocks so far this season, whereas the Gauchos come in at fourth with 139.
“We’ve been working on making sure our centers are distributing the ball so we have a more versatile offense,” junior libero Shauna Klein said. “And our hitters have been working hard in practice to figure out what is going to drop on Hawaii, and what shot is going to be most effective.”
Hawaii has only slightly outhit the Gauchos this season in overall hitting percentage as the Warriors have come up hitting for a .237 team average, compared to UCSB’s .200.
“[Hawaii] had a little bit of inconsistent results so we need to keep our same mindset as we did against Northridge — an attacking mindset,” Lantagne Welch said. “We need to keep working with the ball, and working hard to get our kills as quickly as we can.”
The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Hawaii.
“We have been doing a lot of defense this week to prepare,” sophomore outside hitter Ali Spindt said.