This weekend marks another important chapter in the UCSB women’s volleyball story.
A pair of victories, first on Friday, then Saturday, could be enough for the Gauchos to lock up a top-three finish in the Big West Conference, and, more importantly, buff up their resume in hopes of attaining an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
But for outside hitter Torre Glasker, these pair of games mean a lot more than just the logistics. As one of the teams’ seniors, it will be her last couple of games at a place that has meant a lot to her: UC Santa Barbara.
Originally from Utah, first in Salt Lake City before moving to South Jordan, Glasker had dreams of playing D-I volleyball in the state of California. She had begun playing since she was about 10 years old starting out like most players on a club team.
Her coach during those years, and even for most of her time in club volleyball was her own mother.
A player at BYU and now a coach for more than 30 years, Melissa Glasker loved being around the sport of volleyball.
As a result, her daughter “was just born in the gym.”
“I was always running around with the balls and stuff and I was just always there because she was always coaching. I always liked softball more, but when I turned 14 it just kind of clicked and it was all volleyball.”
She did note that while it wasn’t always easy having her mom as her coach, it is something she grew to appreciate.
“We went through a bit of a rough patch my freshman year where we were fighting because we are just so similar. I have had my fair share of getting thrown out of practices. It’s a mom-daughter relationship, but then we kind of, we got the hang of it and I’m really thankful that I was able to have her as my coach.”
Glasker was a great high school player. She was ranked the No. 21 player in the state of Utah and totaled 1,239 kills, 1,290 digs, 149 aces, and 105 blocks over her high school career which included a pair of region MVPs and an appearance in a state title game.
That talent helped her earn some notable offers from some D-I schools, including, the University of Utah, a school right by her. Despite always wanting to go to school in California, she became nervous and opted to commit to Utah during her sophomore year of high school.
“I kind of got cold feet about leaving the state and leaving my family. I was just nervous thinking about how it would be. I was 16 years old, what 16 year old is just like “oh, I am ready to just go away from my family,’” Glasker said.
Since Glasker’s recruitment, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), has actually made a rule change she is very much in favor of.
Now, universities cannot recruit players, at least in volleyball, until they are in their junior year of college. This allows players to not feel so pressured early on like Glasker felt, especially with such a life-altering decision.
“I felt like I should commit because I didn’t want them to find someone else and it’s just a hard process, but I think that the NCAA did a good job with that,” Glasker said.
Now, Glasker did not really come to regret her decision at all. She spent two years as a Ute, starting seven matches her freshman year and being apart of a Sweet-16 team her sophomore year.
Glasker said she loved the camaraderie on the team and she loved the school but she was ready to get out of Utah and experience something new while she still could.
“I just wanted to branch out and kind of start fresh. Just see something new and do something new. I was kind of just ready for something different,” Glasker said.
Unfortunately, current NCAA rules have it so that players cannot just leave and play at another program, they have to get their coaches’ approval.
“It’s definitely intimidating having to go into coaches’ office that you’re playing for and tell them that you don’t want to play at their school anymore, but I knew what I wanted,” Glasker said.
Now, for a sport like volleyball, there is no rule where a player must sit out a year. Glasker could pick up her career right away entering her junior season, but there are specific schools she could not transfer to.
For example, Utah being a Pac-12 school, Glasker could not transfer to any school in that conference. She could also not transfer to BYU. If she did, she would have had to sit out a year.
“I get where she’s coming from and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because I ended up where I wanted,” Glasker said.
Where Glasker ended up was right along the South Coast, in a place many, including herself, consider paradise — and pretty quickly at that.
Once she received her approval, Glasker sent out her highlight reel to a few schools, including UCSB, on a Friday. She received a call back just a few hours later and just one day later she found herself on a plane headed for Santa Barbara.
By Sunday, she had made her decision and went all-in on UCSB.
“It’s crazy. I always talk to Chad (Gatzlaff, Assistant Coach) about how the stars basically aligned for me to come here. It was just a breeze,” Glasker said.
Now, it wasn’t love at first sight. Glasker said it was a bit hard especially in the first few months when she didn’t know anyone and she would get homesick, but “it was nice to be on my own and I really feel like I grew a lot in that little time frame.”
By the time spring ball came around, and after returning from summer she knew she had found her new home.
“This team has just exceeded my expectations (of what I wanted). I love it here so much. I tell my mom how hard it is for me to almost be done in believing Santa Barbara this year just because it’s been amazing,” Glasker said.
During her junior season, Glasker showed her all-around talent averaging more than two kills per set and three digs per set. In fact, she received the team’s Cho Guts award which is given to the player who always gives 100 percent effort and inspiration to her teammates.
That attitude has not changed during her senior season.
This campaign, Glasker has started in 21 of 25 matches and has been again a do-it-all type of player.
Her greatest moment came in early October when UCSB hosted Cal Poly. Earlier in the week, the Gauchos knew they would be without star senior Lindsey Ruddins after suffering an injury.
“Not having her for that game, I knew I was going to need to play well and I was going to need to do my best to try to get the team together so we could rally and I wasn’t worried because I have faith in everybody on this team,” Glasker said.
Facing the best team in the Big West at that time, it looked like the Gauchos were in for a long night.
Glasker stepped up and led the team, not on the stat sheet maybe, but out on the court. She did total 10 kills, 16 digs, one ace and four blocks in the Gauchos shocking four-set win over Cal Poly.
That win was a big one and although UCSB will most likely not win the Big West her efforts both on and off the court have helped put this Gaucho team in a position of receiving an NCAA bid — something they have not received since 2013.
“It’s nice because everyone always sees us as the underdog but I know we are a good team and we could hang with anyone in the country,” Glasker said.
Not looking too far ahead, however, Glasker is just excited to be able to play a few more games, with a team she loves, for coaches she appreciates, in a wonderful place she could call home.
“I haven’t necessarily come to terms with the fact that I am a senior. It feels weird. Knowing that I have played this game for so long, club, high school and college and I could see the end. It is bittersweet,” Glasker said.
“I am excited for the next chapters in my life but it’s going to be hard to let go. But I am just so thankful, so extremely thankful for the opportunity to come here.
“I couldn’t be happier with where I am at.”