September 17, 2013

UCSB Looks Ahead to Wildcat Classic

The Schedule
Friday, September 20, 2013 at 4:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Wofford (4-6)
at The Pavilion (U of Arizona)
All-time record vs. Terriers: Never Played

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Loyola Maryland (2-7)
at The Pavilion (U of Arizona)
All-time record vs. Greyhounds: Never Played

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Arizona (4-1)
at The Pavilion (U of Arizona)
All-time record vs. Wildcats: 7-2
Last meeting: L, 3-0 (Sep. 8, 2005)

*All records indicate teams' standings before the tournament

Opposite Day
Katey Thompson led the Gaucho offense in San Diego with 39 kills through UCSB's three matches. She was named to the All-USD Tournament team after swinging .392 for the weekend. Perhaps the opposite's most impressive outing was against Eastern Washington. Against the Eagles, UCSB managed a sweep behind Thompson's match-high 12 kills and dominant .500 kill percentage. It was the first time this season that Thompson has played in all three games in a weekend.   

Dynamic Duo
The majority of UCSB's offensive output comes from the arms of seniors Leah Sully and Katey Thompson. Sully has played in all nine of the Gauchos' matches this season and has recorded double-digit kills figures in six of them.  She also paces UCSB with 110 kills. Thompson tops the Santa Barbara roster in kills per set at 3.60 – Sully follows her with 3.06. The senior duo has combined for 421 kills this season, making up 42.1 percent of UCSB's total kills.   

Block Party
UCSB is the fifth in the Big West with 118 total block assists. Middle blocker Phoebe Grunt leads the team in the category with 24, and also has a pair of solo blocks, tying fellow freshman Ali Spindt for the most on the team. The Gauchos' top blocking performance came against then No. 1 USC when the Women of Troy's offense was denied 14 times ­– ­­­­­­­­­­­­a combination of one solo block and 26 block assists.  

Can You Dig It?
Kara Sherrard leads the Gaucho defensive effort with 113 digs and 3.14 digs per set. The senior made the shift from outside hitter to libero this season and has already set her career single-game digs mark with 24 against Virignia. Following her on the stat sheet is Leah Sully with 109 digs. Sully is picking up where she left off last year when she finished with 495 digs, tenth most by a Gaucho in a single season. Not to be overlooked, Ali Spindt has also been active in the backcourt with 77 digs, the most among the underclassmen.  

Taking on the Terriers
Wofford comes into the Wildcat Classic with a 4-6 record, sitting in seventh place in the Southern Conference. The Terriers lead their conference with both 73 service aces and 1.78 per set. Senior Amanda Liquori paces the club with 126 kills, while fellow outside hitter Taylor Baird is right behind her with 122. The most efficient attacker for Wofford is Wendy Burnett whose .397 kill percentage not only leads the team, but also ranks third in the Southern Conference. At middle blocker, Burnett also paces the Terriers with 24 total blocks.     

Kenneling the Greyhounds
Loyola is currently in last place in the Patriot League with a 2-7 record. On offense, the team-high mark of 87 kills is shared by Faye Lukas and Jac Bullock. Bullock also leads the Grehounds with 13 service aces and 24 total blocks, four solo. At setter, Lauren Anderson tops the team with 242 assists, good for fifth in the league. Loyola's best match was at its annual tournament when the team swept La Salle 3-0 on Sep. 6. Since then, however, the Greyhounds have dropped four matches straight, winning only a single set during that stretch.     

Wrangling the Wildcats
With an overall record of 7-2, Arizona is tied for ninth place with Oregon State in the Pac-12 standings. Madi Kingdon is the focal point of the Wildcat offense, as she has swung for 139 kills so far this season. She also has a stellar kills per set average at 4.48, which is second in the conference. As a team, the Wildcats are fourth in the Pac-12 with 88.5 blocks, and are fifth in blocks per set at 2.77. The team's leaders in total blocks are Halli Amaro and Olivia Magill at 31 and 30, respectively.  Amaro also owns six solo blocks, which is second on team only to Kingdon who has notched in eight.

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.