September 26, 2008

Gauchos Open Big West Schedule With Win Over Cal State Northridge

Sept. 26, 2008

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - It took five sets on Friday evening for UC Santa Barbara to beat Cal State Northridge in the two team's Big West Conference opener at the Matadome. The Gauchos defeated the Matadors, 25-27, 25-16, 28-26, 22-25, 15-12, to jump out to a 1-0 start in conference play for the first time since the 2004 season.

With the win, UCSB improves to 5-7 overall while Northridge falls to 5-8 overall and 0-1 in conference.

Several Gauchos pitched in their best efforts so far this season with senior Lauren McLaughlin leading the charge with her third double-double of the year. The outside hitter tallied a season-high 20 kills along with 12 digs and also added a service ace and four block assists for the Gauchos. She hit .258 on the match committing just four errors during her 62 attacks.

Sophomore Charlene DeHoog also had a double-double showing, tallying 12 kills and 12 digs in the win. DeHoog's classmate Kasey Kipp rounded out the double-digit kill performances for UCSB with 10 kills in the match. The middle blocker tied her career-high of nine block assists and also pitched in a pair of solo blocks.

Sophomore setters Dana Vargas and Jessica Welch pitched in 27 and 19 assists, respectively. Vargas added nine digs and an ace to her showing while Welch added an ace and four digs to her performance. Senior libero Leigh Stephenson led the squad with 22 digs.

Freshman Lily Lopez also turned in a solid showing as she tallied three kills, a team-high four service aces, five digs, and four total blocks, including one solo.

For the Matadors, Val Kepler led the attack with 15 kills on 26 attempts with two errors for a .500 clip. She also tallied a total of eight blocks, as did Lynda Morales, who was tied for second on the team with 13 kills. Angela Hupp posted a double-double with 13 kills and 14 digs in the loss.

Sam Orlandini led all players with 54 assists while Kelly Hanson tied Stephenson with a match-high 22 digs.

The Gauchos and Matadors battled through 11 ties and seven lead changes in the first set. UCSB reached set-point first on a kill by Kipp, but Northridge's Kepler and Hupp rallied off two consecutive kills to tie the set at 24-24. Vargas gave the Gauchos' a one-point lead with her lone kill of the night, but Northridge tied the set up on another Kepler kill before a Gaucho attack error sealed the win for the Matadors at 27-25.

In the second set, UCSB quickly climbed out to a 5-0 advantage forcing a Matador timeout. The break only momentarily paused the Gaucho momentum. The second set belonged to UCSB, as it never relinquished the lead and easily took the frame, 25-16, tying the match at one set apiece.

Set three was another see-saw battle as the two teams were tied on 15 occasions during the frame. The Gauchos broke free from a 21-21 tie on a block by Kipp and freshman Whittany Radcliffe and then reached set point with a Welch ace and a kill by McLaughlin. The Matadors were able to climb back into the set with two consecutive points. For each of the next two Gaucho points, Northridge had a response, but with the set tied 26-26, UCSB was finally able to break away on a Matador service error. Santa Barbara sealed the set victory at 28-26 with a McLaughlin kill.

Trailing by one set, Northridge posted its best showing in the fourth frame as it hit .405 collectively, posting 19 kills and four errors during its 37 attempts. The Matadors broke free from a 12-12 tie in the middle of the set and held the upper hand the rest of the way through as they took the 25-22 win and deadlocked the match at two games apiece.

The fifth and final set featured seven ties and four lead changes, the last coming when UCSB broke free of a 12-12 tie with a block by Rebecca Saraceno and Kipp. Back-to-back kills by McLaughlin put the final pair of nails in the coffin as the Gauchos took the 15-12 set victory and the 3-2 match win.

The Gauchos will continue Big West action on Saturday when they head to Cal State Fullerton for a 7:00 p.m. match-up with the Titans.