Leonard Paulasa / The Daily Nexus

The UC Santa Barbara women’s volleyball team will hit the road with matchups at both UC Davis and UC Riverside after defeating archrivals Cal Poly.

Despite having their 13-game win streak snapped at the hands of No. 21 Hawai’i last week, the squad stood strong in what was another fierce rendition of the Blue and Green rivalry.

The Gauchos won two hard-fought sets to take an early lead before the Mustangs charged back with an impressive 25-15 third set. Fortunately for the ‘Chos, a fourth set was all that was needed to walk away with a win.

You could hardly tell a difference when you look at the team stats overall though. Cal Poly actually had more kills, albeit by just two. Errors were even at 22 while the Mustangs also had a slight lead in total attempts.

Someone digging through the individual numbers would be hard-pressed to find something of much significance either — though they would find out that there is one thing in particular that separated these two teams.

A Mustang led both teams in kills, assists and digs. The immediate question then is how did the Gauchos come out on top, despite posting equal or inferior numbers across the board?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Big West superstar Lindsey Ruddins was sidelined with an injury she picked up earlier in the week.

This means that UCSB toppled their archrivals — who are currently in a dogfight for first place with the Gauchos, I might add — a mere week after Hawai’i snapped their 13-game win streak without Lindsey Ruddins.

Cal Poly’s Maia Dvoracek led both teams with 19 kills, but UCSB’s Tallulah Froley was right there with 16 followed by Torre Glasker’s 10. That list was the same for errors, as each posted 9,6 and 6, respectively.

Mustang Avalon DeNecochea dominated the assist game with 42 helpers, but only two of her teammates even recorded an assist at all. Those players were Mika Dickson and Jessica McRoskey, who recorded 3 and 1. Behind DeNecochea were Gauchos Olivia Lovenberg and Romoni Vivao who each dished out their own fair share of helpers at 23 and 17, respectively.

Both Dickson and Lea Ungar each had a service ace for the Mustangs, but it stopped there. Vivao, Lovenberg, Zoe Fleck and Kobie Jimenez all served up two of their own plates while Glasker added one to make it 9 service aces for the Gauchos.

What happened Saturday night was nothing short of extraordinary. It’s only right that we place into the spotlight the many names that have stamped their mark in this incredible season for UCSB.

Dickson did lead both teams in digs with her 17, but Glasker shined once again with 16 and Lovenberg decided to add 11 of her own. Block assists — yes, block assists — will pretty much show you all Gauchos. UCSB’s 20-8 domination in block assists suggests that there was both movement on the court, but also a will.

As cliche as it sounds, it was the will to win.

Coming off their biggest loss of the season and taken down by the very team relentlessly tracking them to the top of the conference, the Gauchos dominated every inch of that hardwood flooring as they chased down every ball all night long. If there was a misplay on the ball, there was always someone there. The depth of this team is just unbelievable.

Even without one of the best players in college volleyball, UCSB took a huge step forward in their quest for glory after defeating Cal Poly 3-1.

The Gauchos will first travel to Davis (who are just outside the top three of UCSB, Cal Poly and Hawai’i) and will be looking to start their last big push after having lost to Hawai’i last week.
UCSB will have Friday off before making the trip to Riverside on Saturday where underestimating their opponent may prove fatal. Riverside is currently last in the Big West with a 1-6 record in conference play and a 5-13 record overall.

Both of these teams have already made the trip out to the Thunderdome this season and both have been swept out of town. Ruddins has yet to be confirmed for either matchup, but Saturday’s Blue-Green showing tells us the expectation should be nothing short of two victories for the Gauchos.

The Gauchos will play UC Davis this Thursday at 7 p.m. before a southern trip to UC Riverside for kickoff at 5 p.m. on Saturday.