Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Riverside (1-17, 0-6)
at UCR Student Recreation Center
All-time record vs. Highlanders: 29-1
Last meeting: W, 3-2 (Nov. 16, 2012)
Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 6 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Fullerton (9-9, 2-4)
at Titan Gym
All-time record vs. Titans: 57-8
Last meeting: W, 3-2 (Nov. 17, 2012)
The Gauchos pushed their winning streak to five matches as they defeated Cal State Northridge (3-0) and UC Davis (3-2) at the Thunderdome this past weekend. UCSB's victory over the Matadors not only gave CSUN its first loss of conference play, but it also marked the third-straight time the Gauchos defeated the top-team in the Big West. Against the Aggies, UCSB overcame a 2-1 deficit by taking the fourth (25-20) and fifth sets (15-11). After hitting .000 as a team in the third set, UCSB sparked its comeback with a collective. 438 kill percentage in the fourth set.
Leah Sully played her first sets as an outside hitter in a month against UC Davis on Saturday. The senior has played libero for the Gauchos since the start of conference play, but when UCSB was down 2-1, head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch moved Sully back into her natural position. The coaching decision paid off as Sully recorded nine kills and swung for .634 during the final two sets. Aside from her impressive play on offense, Sully also tallied a season-high 25 digs.
Right Up Their Ali
Outside hitters Ali Barbeau and Ali Spindt were integral in the Gaucho's 2-0 weekend. Spindt led UCSB in the sweep over CSUN with 12 kills and a nine digs. The freshman followed up that performance with 11 kills and eight digs against UC Davis. Barbeau led the floor with a career-high 19 kills against the Aggies. Her .261 kill percentage is the second-highest this season when she has reached when hitting double digit kills figures. Overall, the two players combined for a total of 35 points against UC Davis.
Where We Stand
Riding their longest win streak since 2011, the Gauchos (5-1) are now tied for second with Hawai'i in the Big West standings, while Cal State Northridge holds the top spot in the conference at 6-1. On the national scale, UCSB made a jump from 75 to 63 in the RPI rankings, which is the top mark for the program in two years.
The Gauchos have become one of the top attacking teams in the conference as they are third with 13.44 kills per set average, while their .254 kill percentage ranks second. UCSB has held a strong presence at the net against their Big West opponents, as they have averaged the most blocks per set (3.12) and are second in total blocks (78).
Handling the Highlanders
UC Riverside is still searching for its first win in Big West play as they sit in last place with a 0-6 record. The Highlanders are just 1-17 overall in 2013. To climb the conference standings, UCR will rely on the offensive effort of Cristina Maietta who has the most kills on the team with 161. Ashley Cox has also been productive for the Highlanders as she is second on the team with 134 kills. At libero, Maddie Hubbell has put together the third-best digs per set average in the Big West with 3.93. Hubbell's 240 digs place her seventh in the conference.
Clashing with the Titans
At 2-4, Cal State Fullerton is tied for sixth in the Big West standings. The Titans enter this week as one of the conference's top teams in digs by averaging 17.72 per game. That mark is well above the second-best average of 15.73 held by UC Irvine. Senior outside hitter Bre Moreland is the Titans' kills leader with 190. At opposite, Alyse Hensley is right behind her fellow senior with 186 kills. Middle blocker Holland Crenshaw's 50 blocks paces the team, while Leah Best tops the roster with nine solo blocks.
Katey Thompson is hitting her peak in her senior season for the Gauchos. She is UCSB's kills leader with 193, and averages 3.45 kills per set (third-best in the Big West). The right side hitter has set or tied her career-high in almost every major statistical category this season, highlighted by her 23-kill performance against Long Beach State and her 11 total blocks recorded in Honolulu. Currently, Thompson is on a seven-match streak of reaching double digits in kills. It is the longest such streak of her career. In fact, the opporite has recorded double digit kills figures in 12 of the 14 matches she's played in this season.
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.
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.