Gauchos Claim Fifth Seed; Open Big West Tournament Against UC Davis

April Scatliffe (Photo by Tony Mastres)
April Scatliffe (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.Recording a victory in the regular season finale, UC Santa Barbara (7-15, 4-4) secured the fifth seed in this year's Big West Tournament. Santa Barbara will begin its run for the tournament championship on Friday, Apr. 25 at 11 a.m. against No. 4 seed UC Davis (12-9, 4-3) in Indian Wells, Calif. UCSB will look to replicate its previous meeting with the Aggies as the Gauchos cruised to a 6-1 victory earlier this season.

Filled with close losses and wins, the Gauchos entered the final week of the regular season with an aggressive mindset. Creating positive momentum into the tournament was a goal for Head Coach Simon Thibodeau and his squad. Despite a tight 4-3 loss to rivals Cal Poly, UCSB turned it around in a blur with a convincing 5-2 win over fellow Big West opponent, Cal State Northridge.

The lineup for the Gauchos will be interesting to watch as the depth of the team has given Coach Thibodeau flexibility in the ladder. Junior, April Scatliffe has stepped up this season in competing against the opposing team's best as the one seed for the majority of the season. Freshman, Kaiulani Boyer offers flexibility as the Irvine, Calif., native has produced on both courts 2 and 3.

The midseason arrival of freshman, Jaimee Gilbertson, has provided the Gauchos with an important spark. With her quality play throughout the dual match campaign, the Noosa, Australia native has climbed up the team's ladder. Stepping up both in her doubles and singles matches, Gilbertson now rides a three match win streak in singles play along with a four match win streak in doubles action with partner, Priscila Garcia. Gilbertson is making a statement in the Big West conference as the freshman was named Player of the Week after last weekend's action.

If the Gauchos prevail over Davis, the team will be slated to face off against the winner between No. 1 Long Beach and No. 8 Cal State Fullerton/ No. 9 UC Riverside. Fullerton and Riverside will open the weekend's action on Thursday, Apr. 24 as the winner will face off against top seed Long Beach on Frday, Apr. 25.

Having a full week of preparation, UCSB will aim towards carrying its momentum into the conference tournament. With the major goal in sight, the Gauchos will play like there is no tomorrow in hopes of capturing the Big West title.