November 9, 2011

Gauchos Put Away Northridge With Ease

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Right now, the Gauchos have a sweeping sensation.

For the second consecutive match the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team took it to their opponent, this time sweeping Cal State Northridge in what was billed as a showdown between a pair of second-place teams fighting for the playoffs.

Only one showed up.

Behind a double-double from Leah Sully and great hitting nights from Stacey Schmidt, Kara Sherrard and Lily Lopez, the Gauchos downed CSUN 25-16, 25-21, 25-20 on Wednesday night at the Thunderdome.

UCSB improves to 15-11 overall and 8-5 in the Big West. Northridge drops to 13-12, 7-6. The win was important for the Gauchos because it moves them into sole possession of second place, a full game ahead of CSUN and Pacific. It gives Santa Barbara an inside track on reaching the postseason.

It marked the second straight sweep for UCSB – the Gauchos also swept UC Irvine last Friday – and the first back-to-back sweeps for UCSB since Sept. 22 and 25 in 2009.

Sully led the way with 11 kills and 16 digs – her 19th double double this season – as Hanna Nielson had 40 assists.

All night it never seemed like the match was in jeopardy of getting away from the Gauchos as UCSB led for all but three serves in the first two sets.

However, in the third set, the Matadors jumped out to a 5-1 lead, forcing UCSB head coach Kathy Gregory to call timeout. Whatever the legendary coach said rallied the Gauchos as UCSB eventually took a 10-9 lead on one of CSUN's 18 attack errors on the night.

The two teams traded points until an attack error and a service ace from Erica Lau gave UCSB a 20-18 advantage. The Matadors called timeout but it didn't help as Sherrard had two kills down the stretch and a service ace to finish off the night.

The sophomore from Lancaster, Calif. finished with 11 kills and eight digs.

Senior Stacey Schmidt had 12 kills and hit .458 while Lopez added eight putaways and swung at a .471 clip as she didn't make an error.

Libero Chelsey Lowe recorded 26 digs and moved past her predecessor, Leigh Stephenson, into ninth place all-time on UCSB's career digs chart.

UCSB will finish its home slate with a 7:30 p.m. match on Saturday vs. rival Cal Poly. Schmidt, Lopez and Lowe will be honored prior to the match. Get your tickets by calling 893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.