September 26, 2009

Down 2-0, Eight Points in Set 3, Gauchos Rally for Big Win Over #21 Irvine

Sept. 26, 2009

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An extended second set defeat seemed to drain the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team and it clearly carried over into the first part of a lackluster third set.

UCSB was down eight points in the third set and No. 21 UC Irvine was in cruise control, and appeared on its way to a difficult, although rewarding, victory on Saturday night at the Thunderdome.

Check that.

Kills by Charlene DeHoog and Rebecca Saraceno quickly turned around a 19-11 deficit in the third set and all of a sudden UCSB was on a roll. The Gauchos rattled off eight straight points to tie the match with Saraceno notching two more kills and Leah Sully serving two aces in the run.

Irvine was on its heels and UCSB took control, winning the third set and then steamrolling the Anteaters in the fourth and fifth sets for an incredible 23-25, 27-29, 27-25, 25-16, 15-9 victory.

The win improves UCSB's record to 11-2 (2-0 in the Big West) and marks the Gauchos' sixth win in a row. It is UCSB's best start to a season since opening the 2002 season with 23 straight wins. The six straight victories is UCSB's longest winning streak since capturing its final eight regular-season matches at the end of the 2005 season.

Irvine falls to 11-3, 1-1. It was the first time UCSB has beaten UCI since Sept. 30, 2006.

Rebecca Saraceno finished with a career-high 29 kills and 15 digs, her third consecutive double-double and eighth this season. Dana Vargas had 60 assists.

Vargas also had a career-high 20 digs while Chelsey Lowe matched her career-high with 23 digs. Freshman Olivia Ruff had 11 digs and Sully was the fifth Gaucho with double-digit digs, notching 10.

Irvine tried to rally in the pivotal third set, as the team's traded points after being tied at 19-apiece. But Stacey Schmidt put down one of her 13 kills to make it 26-25 and an Anteater attack error breathed life into the Gauchos, giving them the set three win.

No doubt was left that the Gauchos could hang with the 21st-ranked Anteaters in the fourth set as UCSB hit at an amazing .467 in that set as Schmidt and Lily Lopez led the way with five and three kills, respectively.

Even though UCI got out to a quick 6-3 lead in the fifth set, it hardly fazed the Gauchos, who had already rallied back from the eight-point deficit in the third set. Sully stepped back to the line and served eight straight points - three coming on kills by Saraceno, two coming courtesy of Sully aces. UCSB hit .435 in the deciding set.

Sully finished with seven service aces, setting a school record under the rally scoring format (since 2001) while Saraceno's 29 kills are tied for third-most in that scenario. Sully's seven aces are the most by a player at UCSB since Maria Reyes had that many in a match vs. Cal State Fullerton in 1990.

UCSB is on the road this week to face Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton before opening a four-match homestand vs. Cal Poly on Oct. 10.

To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office now has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays, making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The ICA Ticket Office will be open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the ticket office, are already available during weekday hours, which are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This season two UCSB players will be frequently updating Gaucho fans about the women's volleyball team through the school's official website - UCSBgauchos.com. Middle blocker Stacey Schmidt writes a blog titled "Stacebook" and outside hitter Charlene DeHoog has jumped into the social networking by providing constant Twitter updates. Read "Stacebook" by clicking here. Follow DeHoog's thoughts at twitter.com/ucsbvolleyball. Both can also be found on the women's volleyball page of UCSBgauchos.com.

• Join the GKids
UCSB Athletics is proud to introduce GKids - its new official kids club! GKids members will receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the new GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.