November 8, 2013

UCSB Eyes Season Sweep Over No. 12 Hawai’i

The Schedule
Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Hawai'i (18-4, 7-3)
at Thunderdome
All-time record vs. Rainbow Wahine: 6-29
Last meeting: W, 3-2 (Oct. 11, 2013)

Weekend Recap
The Gauchos pulled off the season sweep over rival Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo last Saturday in a dominant 3-0 shutout. The match started UCSB on their second round through the Big West after the Gauchos went 7-1 in their first eight matchups with conference opponents. The road sweep extended UCSB's winning streak to eight matches - the program's longest since 2005- and also places the team just a 1/2 game shy of first place in the conference standings, as Cal State Northridge currently stands at 9-1. As a team, the Gauchos held Cal Poly's offense to just a .056 kill percentage. UCSB also had its way at the net, as it edged the Mustangs in total blocks 13 to five.

On the Verge of History
Leah Sully has played libero for the entire conference schedule, except for two sets against UC Davis on Oct. 19. Despite playing outside hitter for her entire Gaucho career, Sully has assimilated very well into her new position and has recorded a team-high 299 digs through the season and has the fourth-best digs per set average in the Big West at 3.69. She has been a terrific passer since she arrived at UCSB and has, thus far,  put together a career-total of 1590 digs, fourth most in program history. She is just 29 digs shy of being second on the list.  In order to become the all-time leader, Sully will need an average of 17.3 digs per match for the rest of the regular season.

Put a 'Beau' on It
Outside hitter Ali Barbeau has led the Gauchos in kills for the past two matches. Most recently in Cal Poly, the sophomore connected on a match-high 16 kills and four block assists. Against Cal State Fullerton, Barbeau hit a match-high .455 for 18 kills. Again, she contributed four block assists at the net to lead UCSB to another sweep. Overall, Barbeau trails only Katey Thompson and Ali Spindt for most kills on the team with 199. She is tied with Spindt for the second-highest points per set average on the Gauchos at 3.0.      

Where We Rank
In conference play, the Gauchos have become one of the top attacking teams as they lead the Big West with a 14.09 kills per set average and is second in kill percentage at .267. At the net, UCSB has averaged the most blocks per set (3.24) and the second-most block assists (178). Overall, the Gauchos are second in total blocks with 110. Santa Barbara is just one of two teams in the league to average more than 18 points per game with an 18.4 average. As Hanna Nielson and Ali Santi have split time as the team's setter, the two have led the UCSB to being the only club in the Big West to average more than 13 assists per set (13.12).

Whip Out the Brooms
UCSB has been in a sweeping mood lately, as they have blanked four of their past five opponents., including the past three consecutively. So far this season, the Gauchos have pulled off eight sweeps, five in conference play.

Handling Hawai'i
The Rainbow Wahine are the highest ranked team in the Big West in the natioanl polls, including the AVCA Coaches' poll where they are No. 12. Despite their prominence, though, Hawai'i sits in third place in the conference standings with a 7-3 record. The Gauchos handed the Rainbow Wahine their first loss of the conference season, while Cal State Northridge and UC Davis handed them two straight road loses two weeks later. Emily Hartong is the focal point of the Hawai'i offense as she leads the Big West with 377 kills, which is 86 more than the next. highest total in the conference. Ali Longo leads the team defensively as she has a conference-best 332 digs.     

Opposite Day
Katey Thompson is hitting her peak in her senior season for the Gauchos. She is UCSB's kills leader with 227, and averages 3.49 kills per set (second-best in the Big West).  Thompson has recorded double digit kills figures in 14 of the 17 matches she's played in this season.  Also getting it done at the net, the senior has recorded the third-most total blocks on the team with 58. That mark is the highest for any non-middle blocker on the UCSB roster. 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.  

Spectacular Sully
In her final season, Leah Sully has been solidifying her name as one of the most prolific players in recent memory. She is currently third on UCSB's kills attempts list with 4,243, and fifth among the program's all-time leaders in service aces with 136. She only needs three more aces to become third. Her name can be found throughout the Gaucho record book as she owns four of the team's top-kills single match performances in the rally scoring era, among other lists.   

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.

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