October 9, 2013

Gauchos to Face No. 5 Hawai’i in Honolulu

The Schedule
Friday, October 11, 2013 at 10 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara vs. Hawai'i (15-1, 4-0)
at Stan Sheriff Center
All-time record vs. Rainbow Wahine: 5-29
Last meeting: L, 3-0 (Nov. 1, 2012)

Weekend Recap
Last weekend, Ali Spindt captured a career high with 17 kills to lead the Gauchos to a 3-1 victory over their rival Cal Poly at the Thunderdome.  After dropping the first set 27-25, UCSB took the next three, including a dominant 25-16 win in the third game. The freshman also added 14 digs to her statline for a double-double, her fourth in as many matches. Katey Thompson contributed 16 kills and also held her own at the net with five total blocks, two solo. Overall, the Gaucho offense swung for an efficient .310 hitting percentage on the night.

Terrific Thompson
Despite missing four of UCSB's 14 matches, Katey Thompson owns the highest kills total on the team with 151. Through UCSB's first three Big West matches, the senior connected for 49 kills, swinging for a .309 hit percentage. Against the 49ers, Thompson recorded a career-high 23 kills, which was also the second time she has made 20 or more kills in a single match. Against UC Irvine and Cal Poly, Thompson was instrumental in clinching the match wins with superb play in the deciding sets by averaging six kills per set. She even connected on a kill to end the third game, completing a sweep over the Anteaters.

Checking the Conference
After knocking off Cal Poly from the Big West's top spot, the Gauchos currently find themselves tied for third with the Mustangs. With undefeated conference marks, only Hawai'i (4-0) and CSUN (3-0) are ahead Cal Poly. After its trip to Honolulu, UCSB will host Northridge next Friday (Oct. 18) in the Thunderdome.

Standout Stats
In conference play, UCSB has established itself as one of the top teams in several statistical categories. The Gauchos only trail Hawai'i for the most kills in conference play with 178, and are just .02 off the Wahine's Big West leading kills per set mark at 14.83. Collectively, the Gauchos have performed well at the net with the most solo blocks in the league (10) and the third-most total blocks (34).

Spin-dt Doctor
Though only a freshman, Ali Spindt has made an immediate impact on the Gauchos' roster. She has recorded 146 kills, just falling five short of Katey Thompson's team-leading total. That mark also places her first among all true freshmen in the Big West and 15th overall. What's more impressive is her recent tear through the past four matches in which she's averaged a double-double with 14 kills and 12.75 digs per set.

History with the Rainbow Wahine
Hawai'i leads the series with the Gauchos at 5-29, and are on an eight-match win streak. The last time UCSB defeated the Rainbow Wahine was in a 3-1 decision on Nov. 10, 1994.  

Bring on the 'Bows
Hawai'i enters the third week of Big West play not only as the top team in the conference, but also the fifth ranked program in the NCAA. The Rainbow Wahine's only loss of the season came at home against then No. 3 San Diego in five sets. Since then, Hawai'i has gone on a 13-match win streak, which boasts eight sweeps. The Rainbows' top offensive threat is 2012 AVCA All-American Emily Hartong. She leads the team with 259 kills and is No. 9 in the country with 4.63 kills per set average. In the back row, Ali Longo has the team-high of 262 digs, averaging 4.11 per set. At the net, Hawai'i looks to middle blocker Kalei Adolpho who has recorded 59 total blocks on the season, nine solo.  

Block Party
UCSB is fifth in the Big West with 202 block assists. Middle blocker Phoebe Grunt leads the team in the category with 45 and has six solo blocks, which are also the most on the team.  The freshman is sixth in the league with 1.04 blocks per set. As a team, the Gauchos' top blocking performance came against then-No. 1 USC when the Women of Troy's offense was denied 14 times – a combination of one solo block and 26 block assists.

Leah Leads
Leah Sully started off the season as one of the Gauchos' top offensive threat, but she has recently made the move to libero to help anchor her team's defense. So far, the transition has been seamless, as in her first three matches she has averaged 14.3 digs per match. In 2012 as an outside hitter, Sully finished the year with 10th in program history with 495 digs in a single season. Even before switching positions, Sully was averaging 10.6 digs through this season's first 12 matches.

Two-Year Thunderdome Celebration Continues
In 2013-14, UC Santa Barbara will continue its two-year 35th anniversary celebration of the Thunderdome.  In the Fall of 1979, the doors officially opened for UCSB's Events Center and a new era in Gaucho Athletics was born. Nicknamed the Thunderdome, the Events Center has been home for UCSB's prolific women's volleyball program since its opening. Under the bright lights of the 'Dome, the Gauchos established themselves as a perennial NCAA contender, qualifying for the national tournament 27 times including 26 straight.

History Lesson
UCSB women's volleyball is historically one of the most successful teams in the NCAA. The Gauchos are just one of only four teams to qualify for the first 26 NCAA Tournaments. Overall, UCSB reached 27 NCAA Tournaments, which includes multiple Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen berths. Before the NCAA recognized women's volleyball, UCSB was one of the top teams in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), reaching its national tournament Final Four three times including two third place finishes.