November 12, 2011

Seniors Help the Gauchos Stampede Over the Mustangs

UCSB topped the Cal Poly Mustangs in a brisk three-game match on Saturday night, earning their third straight win and furthering their chances at earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. The night's match was the last home appearance for outgoing seniors Stacey SchmidtChelsey Lowe, and Lily Lopez, and none failed to disappoint in front of their friends and family.

 Game scores were 25-15, 25-22, and 25-21. With the win, the Gauchos improve to 16-11 on the season with a 9-5 Big West tally. Cal Poly drops to 11-16, 6-8.

"Senior Night" was a fitting moniker for the Gauchos' play on this night, as all three seniors played key parts in the victory. 

Schmidt, a middle blocker, racked up 14 kills, which tied sophomore outside hitter Leah Sully for the team lead. Stacey also had a monster night at the net, picking up six blocks, which led all players.

Lily Lopez, also a middle blocker, recorded an even dozen kills, but her attacking efficiency was what benefitted her team the most- Lopez recorded a .588 hitting percentage, easily tops among all players. Schmidt was next best at a .333 clip.

Lowe, the UCSB libero, tallied an impressive 25 digs on the night, bringing her season total to 586. That total represents the fourth highest single-season dig total in school history, and she only trails third place Maria Reyes by five digs. Chelsey has a shot at overtaking Leigh Stephenson's top ranked campaign of 650 digs if she can keep up her extraordinary form.

UCSB has now won 11 straight sets dating back to Oct. 29, taking the last two sets of a match against Pacific, and then sweeping UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, and Cal Poly in straight sets.

As a team, the Gauchos outserved the Mustangs, compiling five services aces to Poly's one. UCSB held the Mustangs to sub .100 team hitting percentages in two of the three sets. However, the seniors were clearly the story in Head Coach Kathy Gregory's eyes: "We couldn't have asked for a better match on Senior Night, they all played so well. I'm so proud of our seniors, and hopefully they can keep it up and lead us into the NCAA tournament."

Heading into the last two matches of the season, the Gauchos remain a full game up on third place Cal State Northridge. UCSB heads to the Matadome on Friday, Nov. 18, in a match that will have huge playoff implications for both teams.  The Gauchos swept the Matadors at the Thunderdome on Nov. 9.

The Gauchos conclude their conference slate with a match at UC Riverside on Saturday, Nov. 19.