October 31, 2013

UCSB Hits the Road to Face Cal Poly

The Schedule
Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 7 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly (10-11, 4-4)
at Mott Gym
All-time record vs. Mustangs: 45-25
Last meeting: W, 3-1 (Oct. 5, 2013)

Weekend Recap
The Gauchos swept their competition last weekend as they blanked both UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton 3-0. Those victories also extend the team's winning streak to seven matches, marking its longest winning streak over Big West opponents since 2005. At 7-1 in conference, UCSB is now in a tie for first-place with Cal State Northridge. The Gauchos currently hold the tie breaker between the two as they handed the Matadors their only loss in Big West play on Oct. 18.

On the Verge of History
Leah Sully has played libero for the entire conference schedule, except for two sets against UC Davis on Oct. 19. Despite playing outside hitter for her entire Gaucho career, Sully has assimilated very well into her new position and has recorded a team-high 285 digs through the season and has the fifth-best digs per set average 3.65. She has been a terrific passer since she arrived to UCSB and has, thus far,  put together a career-total of 1574 digs, fourth most in program history. She is just 46 digs shy of being second on the list.  In order to become the all-time leader, Sully will need an average of 17.1 digs per set for the rest of the regular season.

Right Up Their Ali    
Outside hitters Ali Barbeau and Ali Spindt were integral in the Gaucho's 2-0 weekend. Barbeau  hit a season-high .455 in leading the Gauchos with 18 kills over Cal State Fullerton. The sophomore also had 11 kills the previous night in Riverside when she also recorded a .385 kill percentage. Spindt had her most efficient attacking weekend this season as she hit for .438 and 12 kills against UCR while also garnering a .400 mark and 15 kills at Fullerton. Against the Titans, she also came up with 15 digs, notching her eighth double-double of the season.     

Standout Stats
The Gauchos have become one of the top attacking teams in conference play as they lead the Big West with both 14.10 kills per set average and their .271 kill percentage. UCSB has held a strong presence at the net against their Big West opponents, as they have averaged the most blocks per set (3.13) and total blocks (158). Overall, the Gauchos are second in total blocks with 97. Santa Barbara is also the only team in the league to average more than 18 points per game with an 18.3 average. As Hanna Nielson and Ali Santi have split time as the team's setter, the two have led the Gauchos to being just one of two clubs in the Big West to average more than 13 per set (13.16).

Blue Green Rivalry
The Gauchos handed the Mustangs their first loss in the conference schedule in a 3-1 victory in the Thunderdome. UCSB is currently on a four-match win streak over its rival. Last season, the Gauchos swept Cal Poly in Mott Gym 25-20, 25-27, 25-20. In that match, Katey Thompson led the floor with 15 kills and an outstanding .538 kill percentage. The opposite also recorded a match-high four blocks assists.

Managing the Mustangs
Just like the Gauchos, Cal Poly paid visits to UC Riverside and Cal state Fullerton last weekend and picked up two convincing wins, as they only gave up one set through both matches. Those victories snapped the Mustangs' four-match skid, which was started after their loss to UCSB on Oct. 5. At 4-4, Cal Poly is tied with UC Davis for fifth place in the Big West. Leading the Mustangs on offense is Megan McConnell who has recorded a team-high 232 kills. Chelsea Hardin is behind her teammate with 196 kills, but has the fifth-highest kills per set average with 3.11.

Opposite Day
Katey Thompson is hitting her peak in her senior season for the Gauchos. She is UCSB's kills leader with 219, and averages 3.53 kills per set (second-best in the Big West).  The right side hitter has set or tied her career high in almost every major statistical category this season, highlighted by her 23-kill performance against Long Beach State and her 11 total blocks recorded in Honolulu. Currently, Thompson is on a nine-match streak of reaching double digits in kills. It is the longest such streak of her career. In fact, the opposite has recorded double digit kills figures in 14 of the 16 matches she's played in this season.

Spectacular Sully
In her final season, Leah Sully has been solidifying her name as one of the most prolific players in recent memory. She is currently third on UCSB's kills attempts list with 4,243, and seventh among the program's all-time leaders in service aces with 135. She only needs four more aces to become third. Her name can be found throughout the Gaucho record book as she owns four of the team's top-kills single match performances in the rally scoring era, among other lists.   

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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