Friday, November 29, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach State (16-11, 9-5)
at Walter Pyramid
All-time record vs. 49ers: 36-62
Last meeting: L, 3-2 (Sep. 27, 2013)
Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine (14-14, 6-9)
at The Bren Events Center
All-time record vs. Anteaters: 31-6
Last meeting: W, 3-0 (Sep. 28, 2013)
UCSB finished their 2013 home schedule with consecutive sweeps against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. Katey Thompson led the Gauchos to the dominant weekend with 21 kills and 10 digs. Efficient on offense, Thompson's weekend hit percentage was .415. The two wins gave UCSB 11 sweeps on the year, eight coming in conference play.
Smile for the Camera!
This Friday's match at Long Beach State will be featured on ESPN 3. The online broadcast will start at 7p.m. You can watch the match here.
Win and You're In
Entering the final week of Big West play, UCSB exclusively owns the first-place spot in the league for the first time this season. Cal State Northridge is .5 game behind, while Hawai'i trails the Gauchos by one game. UCSB needs just one win to clinch the Big West crown and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament and two to finish with the best record in the conference. The Gauchos own the tiebreaker if they end up tied with CSUN, Hawai'i, or both.
Kate the Great
Katey Thompson is hitting her peak in her senior season for the Gauchos. She is UCSB's kills leader with 283, and averages 3.37 kills per set (third-best in the Big West). Thompson has recorded double digit kills figures in 18 of the 22 matches she's played in this season. Also putting up solid numbers at the net, the senior has recorded the third-most total blocks on the team with 80. That mark is the highest for any non-middle blocker on the UCSB roster.
Top Ten Sully
Leah Sully has been making the most of what has been an unorthodox senior season. After recording the program's fifth-most kills in a single season in 2012, an elbow injury forced Sully to switch from outside hitter to libero at the start of the 2013 conference schedule. So far, she has recorded 393 digs and is now second all-time with 1,682. With two matches left in the regular season, she is just 30 digs shy of becoming the program's all-time leader in digs.
Grunt's Block Party
Freshman Phoebe Grunt is not only the Gauchos' blocks leader with 114, but she also leads the Big West by averaging 1.27 blocks per set. Her blocks total ranks fourth in the league, and first among underclassmen. She has proven to be more dominant in the conference schedule, as she has averaged 1.45 blocks per set.
Ali Spindt is a true freshman, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her superb stats. The outside hitter is second on the team with both 279 kills and 274 digs. Playing complete matches, Spindt has put together double double figures 11 times, the most of any Gaucho this season.
Facing the 49ers
The Gauchos look to avenge their first loss of the Big West season when they visit the Walter Pyramid this Friday. Long Beach State edged the Gauchos in five sets during the conference season opener. Delainey Aigner-Swesey led the 49ers with 18 kills and 23 digs in that contest, while Katey Thompson had 23 kills for he Gauchos. Aigner-Swesey's 3.44 kills per set is the second-highest average in the Big West. Running the 49ers offense has been setter Erin Juley who has recorded 10.34 assists per set. On defense, Tyler Jackson paces the team with 362 digs. LBSU is currently on a three-match win streak heading this weekend's competition.
Analyzing the Anteaters
UCSB handed the Anteaters a sweep in their first meeting this season. Aly Squires leads the team with 321 kills, fifth most in the Big West. Behind her is Marisa Bubica with 291 kills as she has averaged 3 per set. At the service line, the Anteaters has delivered the most service aces in the conference with 164. Leading UCI in that category is Shannon Flemming who has compiled 41 service aces so far. At home, the Anteaters are 5-4, and are entering this week winning three of their past four matches.
Where We Rank
In conference play, the Gauchos have become one of the top attacking teams as they are second in the Big West with a 13.75 kills per set average and are third in kill percentage with .254. At the net, UCSB has averaged the most blocks per set (3.15), as well as the highest block assists mark (278). Overall, the Gauchos are second in total blocks with 178. Santa Barbara is the only team to average over 18 points per set at 18.2.
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.
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.