September 5, 2013

UCSB Prepares for Pepperdine Invitational

• The Schedule
Friday, September 6, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (2-1,0-0) at Pepperdine (2-1, 0-0)
at Firestone Fieldhouse
All-time record vs. Waves: 29-21
Last meeting: L, 3-1 (Oct. 3, 2012)

Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Colorado State (3-0, 0-0)
at Firestone Fieldhouse
All-time record vs. Rams: 3-1
Last meeting: L, 3-0 (Sept. 9, 2000)

Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 5 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Virginia (3-0, 0-0)
at Firestone Fieldhouse
All-time record vs. Cavaliers: 0-1
Last meeting: L, 3-1 (Sept. 8, 2007)

*All records indicate teams' standings before the tournament

• High Fives!
At the Cal Molten Classic, the Gauchos went the distance and were winners in two five-set matches. First against Nevada, UCSB relied on the top-three kills leaders from last season to pace them through the match. Katey Thompson had a team-high 16 kills, while Leah Sully and Britton Taylor each had 13. Taylor was the most efficient attacker as she hit an impressive .458 kill percentage. Against New Mexico State, UCSB showed its versatility on defense with four different players reaching double-digits in digs, combing for 70. The back-to-back wins marked the first time the Gauchos won two five-set matches in the same day during the Rally-Scoring Era. The last time the Gauchos won consecutive matches that went to five sets was last season when they defeated both UC Riverside (11/16) and Cal State Fullerton (11/17) on the road.

• Opposite Day
Senior opposite Katey Thompson missed the season opener versus Stanford, but she made some noise in her 2013 debut with terrific attacking performances at the Cal Molten Classsic. In her first match, she recorded 15 kills and followed up the effort with 17 more against New Mexico State. She averaged 4.0 points per set in the tournament and also picked up 33 digs between the two matches. Thompson also found success at the service line, as she put up five service aces on Saturday.

• We're Honored to be Here
In addition to getting a pair of Ws, two Gauchos were voted as all-tournament honorees: outside hitters Leah Sully and Ali Barbeau. Sully posted a double-double in both matches, finishing with 29 kills and 28 digs. For her efforts, Sully was also nominated for Big West Player of the Week. Coming off the bench, Barbeau came through in clutch moments. In a tight fifth set against New Mexico State, the sophomore outside hitter sealed the win for UCSB with a kill to end the game 15-13. Overall, the sophomore contributed with 20.5 points through the two matches.

• Riding the Waves
The tournament host, Pepperdine, will face the Gauchos to open invitational play. The Waves match UCSB's record of 2-1 after hosting the Asics Invitational when they swept Delaware and Iona, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Wisconsin.  Opposite Taylor Racich leads the team with 35 kills and 33 digs. Behind her is Samantha Cash who is a force at the net with a team-high nine total blocks, and only trails Racich with 28 kills.

• Wrangling the Rams
Colorado State was an NCAA Tournament contender a year ago, and they have picked up right where they left off with a perfect 3-0 record. What's more impressive is that the Rams have not dropped a single set this season. The team has excelled in attacking thus far, proven by their collective .332 kill percentage. The offensive leader for the Rams is opposite Adrianna Culbert, who sports 32 kills and a 3.56 kills per set average coming into the weekend. The sophomore also owns a .418 kill percentage. Kelsey Snider, a middle blocker, also sits above the .400 hit percetange mark at .415.

• Clashing with the Cavaliers
Virginia joins Colorado State as the second undefeated team entering the invitational. The Cavaliers opened their season at home by winning the Jefferson Cup after they downed Marshall and Montana in straight sets, and also beat James Madison 3-1. The focal point of Virginia's offense is Tori Janikowski who has already swung for 53 kills this season. In the middle, Mallory Woolridge leads her team with 8 total blocks.  

• 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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