Leonard Paulasa / The Daily Nexus

With both teams currently in a dogfight for first place alongside perennial powerhouse Hawai’i, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly women’s volleyball will compete against each other for the 83rd rendition of the Blue-Green rivalry.

UCSB comes into the matchup with a 9-2 conference, 19-3 overall record and currently sits in second place in the Big West conference. The Mustangs have an identical 9-2 conference record but sit at 16-7 overall.

Fortunately for the Gauchos, their win over Cal Poly at the Thunderdome earlier this season means they have a slight edge in the conference standings. 

A loss this weekend, however, would level the playing field between these two teams and practically force the Gauchos to win all the games the rest of the way if they are to be crowned as the champions of the Big West. 

Cal Poly traveled to the Thunderdome less than a month ago where they were routed at the hands of a Lindsey Ruddins-less Gaucho team. 

Mustang Maia Dvoracek led both teams with 19 kills but also led both teams in errors with nine. Tallulah Froley filled in for Ruddins more than adequately as she posted 16 kills from a .250 hitting percentage and also added 4 digs and 2 blocks.

Three strong sets from the Gauchos and a 10-1 run to win the third by Cal Poly resulted in the 3-1 UCSB win that saw Romoni Vivao, Olivia Lovenberg and Torre Glasker all post double-doubles.

The match was very much a back-and-forth game that saw the Gauchos roll out a lineup bursting with confidence and composure, and they will be hoping this weekend’s match is more of the same. 

There’s no reason to expect anything else, really, given the current success of both teams. Cal Poly does, however, own the superior head-to-head record at 7-3 over the past 10 meetings despite the Gauchos’ 50-31 record overall against the Mustangs. 

Cal Poly is currently coming off a loss against Hawai’i (1-3) despite the incredible performance of Dvoracek. 

Dvoracek posted her sixth double-double of the season with a match-high (and just one short of her career-high) 29 kills and 13 digs. The match marked the 13th consecutive game with double-digit kills for the junior.

The performance was good enough to earn her Big West Player of the Week honors for the fourth time this season, and she’ll surely be looking to replicate that form against a Gaucho squad that will include Lindsey Ruddins. 

This weekend should prove to be one of the defining moments of the season for Big West women’s volleyball. 

What will be remembered? What will everyone be talking about? 

Could it be that those bleeding blue and gold look back on this moment as the kick-start that was the Gauchos’ late-season push to win silverware? Will this be the moment when the Mustangs just simply charge on as they have so very often done against this Gaucho team? 

Even if Hawai’i does run away with the championship, does it really matter if second place was lost to Green? 

The Gauchos and the Mustangs. The Blue and the Green. Huge stakes on the line. 

The match kicks off this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Mott Athletics Center in San Luis Obispo.