UCSB’s women’s volleyball team has reached the cusp of the national top 25 by having won its last 13 matches, but it’ll need one more victory to get into the elite grouping.
The Gauchos (15-1, 4-0 Big West Conference), whose 48 points in today’s AVCA poll left them just three spots outside the top 25, will play host to No. 19 Hawaii (13-2, 3-1) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“It’s been a fun ride so far for our Gaucho volleyball,” coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said during Monday’s Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café. “It sets up for a great match … and we’d love to get as much of the community out to support this group that’s working so hard out there.”
Anyone with a high school identification card can gain admission for $1.
UCSB’s hitting percentage of .451 during Saturday’s sweep over UC Riverside was the Gauchos’ highest in a decade, Welch said.
“We were led by our two big guns, Lindsey Ruddins and Talulah Froley,” she added. “They were phenomenal.”
Froley earned her second Big West Freshman of the Week award. She hit .600 with 24 kills in the back-to-back sweeps over UC Davis and UC Riverside.
She led in kills against Davis with nine while hitting .438 with three blocks. Against Riverside, she recorded UCSB’s 10th highest hitting percentage in the rally-scoring era with a .737 mark, converting 15 of 19 attempts with just one error. She also had five blocks.
WESTMONT ON A ROLL
Westmont College (17-3, 8-1 GSAC) gets a week off after having survived a pair of five-set matches last week, but the 17th-ranked Warriors were anxious to get back to work.
“I actually gave them the option of having tomorrow off … but the majority of them said, ‘Let’s get back to the gym on Tuesday,’” coach Ruth McGolpin said.
Westmont is in first place entering Saturday’s match at The Masters.
The Warriors trailed William Jessup two sets to none on Saturday but rallied when McGolpin switched from a 6-2 (two-setter offense) to a 5-1.
“In set three, we decided to start the freshman setter,” McGolpin said. “We had two freshman middles playing (Kendall Kenyon and Lexi Malone), and our freshman setter (Keelyn Kistner), and they came out amazingly.
“We ended up with a reverse sweep, which is very rare in women’s volleyball.”
VAQUEROS SET RECORD
SBCC’s 45-43 victory in set two of a 3-1 loss against defending Western State Conference champion Ventura on Friday was the longest in California junior college history, coach Kat Niksto said.
“The individual set lasted a whole hour, which was longer than our entire match on Wednesday night (a sweep over the Cal Lutheran junior varsity),” Niksto said. “It was an experience to be a part of but, unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain it for the rest of the match.”
SBCC will play host to L.A. Pierce on Wednesday at 6 p.m., with any high school player with a jersey, t-shirt or school ID receiving free admission.
BIG WEST HONORS ROACH, MCBRIDE
Goalkeeper Ben Roach, a sophomore from Santa Barbara High, was voted as the Big West Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in a 2-2 draw at No. 25 San Diego and a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly.
Roach made four saves against the Toreros and added another against the Mustangs.
Attacking midfielder Finn Ballard McBride, meanwhile, received Big West Freshman of the Week honors for having scored UCSB’s third goal against Cal Poly. He has four goals on the season.
The Gauchos (7-2-2), who are ranked No. 18 by Top Drawer Soccer and No. 24 by Soccer America, will take an unbeaten streak of eight games into Harder Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for its Big West opener against Sacramento State.
WESTMONT KEEPS ROLLING
Coach Dave Wolf didn’t think his fourth-ranked Warriors (8-1, 2-0 GSAC) had it on Saturday when they fell behind 1-0 at No. 24 Menlo.
“I was already preparing the post-game talk: ‘It’s been a good run, let’s just kind of lick our wounds, hop onto the bus and head back to Santa Barbara,’” he said. “I had it all ready to go.
“They had other ideas and really flipped the script in the second half, stormed back, took the lead (2-1).”
But when Menlo scored in the closing minutes of regulation to tie the match, Wolf “dusted off the talk again, had it all ready to go.”
“And then they found a way to win it in extra time,” Wolf said, referring to Tyler Young’s second goal of the match. “It was impressive what they did.”
Westmont will face its next test on Saturday when it plays host to defending GSAC champion Vanguard at 2:30 p.m.