Oct. 31, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Maybe, just maybe, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team will wake up on Monday morning and finally find themselves ranked in the AVCA Top-25.
In one of the Gauchos' best matches in recent memory, UCSB swept Long Beach State 25-23, 25-20, 25-16 on Saturday night in the Thunderdome, snapping an eight-match losing skid to the 49ers.
Despite already winning four matches vs. Top-25 teams this season, UCSB (18-5 overall, 8-3 in the Big West) hasn't cracked the top-25 and therefore has not been ranked since September of 2005. Oddly enough, that was the last time the Gauchos beat Long Beach State. Now, perhaps, the voting members of the poll can take notice.
Getting their seventh win in their past eight matches hardly seemed tough for the Gauchos, facing a 49ers (14-6, 7-3) team that was receiving votes in the poll and had been ranked in the top-25 for the majority of the season. The victory was also the third straight coming via sweep, the first time UCSB has done that since 2006.
Ever since taking a 21-20 lead in game one, UCSB trailed just twice the rest of the match - both 1-0 deficits in the following sets. That's how dominant the Gaucho attack was on Halloween night. Rebecca Saraceno led all players with 16 kills while Dana Vargas had 40 assists. Freshman Leah Sully led the team with 13 digs.
The big key to the win was the play in the middle. Lily Lopez and Stacey Schmidt each had eight kills, Kasey Kipp had seven more and had six block assists. Lopez and Schmidt added three more as the Gauchos had nine total blocks as a team.
Over the Gauchos' hot streak, the team has now moved from fourth to second in the Big West as the Gauchos holding the tiebreaker over UC Irvine after beating the Anteaters twice already this season.
After taking the 21-20 lead in the first set, Saraceno had three of the final five Gaucho kills to take the first set in front of a raucous crowd, many of whom were dressed in costume.
Capping a 12-1 run in the third set was a Saraceno service ace, one of eight the Gauchos had on the night, giving the team consecutive nights with eight aces. The run followed a second set that saw UCSB serve four aces, three coming from Schmidt in one service run.
Helping matters for the Gaucho win was that Long Beach hit a mere .127 in the match as UCSB swung at a .250 clip - including .303 and .382 percentages in sets two and three.
UCSB takes to the road for its next four matches before returning home for the final two regular-season matches, Nov. 21 and 24. 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.
UCSB Athletics has a new weekly radio show called Talk'n Gauchos which airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1490 KIST. The show is broadcast live from State & A Bar and Grill, located on the corner of State Street and Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. Fans are encouraged to attend the show for free gear and ticket giveaways or to even e-mail a question in to one of the guests and have it read live over the air. The show also airs live online via audio streaming and fans can click here to check out the entire lineup of live audio streaming online.