Gauchos out of sync in home debut

Maybe early season home matches aren’t to be for the UCSB women’s volleyball team.

Playing a rare home date in August, the Gauchos struggled in several departments Monday night and fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats, 25-17, 25-20, 25-18, at Rob Gym

Cincinnati, ranked 32nd in the AVCA preseason poll, showed the 33rd-ranked Gauchos why its ahead of them in the poll by putting on a blocking clinic, serving tough, and playing with fire.

“That is a good team,” UCSB coach Kathy Gregory said. “They have the physical talent, but we didn’t help with our serving. With no serving and no outside hitting, it’s really hard to win anything because you don’t get that many chances.”

The Gauchos were outblocked 8-1 in the match by the Bearcats Jordanne Scott led the way with five blocks.

The Bearcats could also contribute their success to strong offensive scoring from Megan Turner, who hit .455, and Scott, who had eight kills on 15 attempts with only one error.

The Gauchos did show some bright spots in the nonconference match.

Junior middle blocker Stacey Schmidt carried the offensive load with 10 kills on 16 attempts with only one error, hitting a match-high .562. Setter Dana Vargas contributed 31 assists and 8 digs, and former Santa Barbara High standout Mimi Cuttrell had 5 kills, including a big kill to end a long rally late in game three.

One thing missing from the Gauchos in their homer opener was fire. At times the team looked flat and struggled to get momentum back in their favor.

Dana Vargas took some of the heat for the lack of energy on the court.

“As the captain and as a setter, I’m supposed to be bringing the energy and always keeping my hitters up, always keeping the confidence up,” she said.

Another key was the absence of outside hitter Leah Sully due to an injury suffered against Cal on Friday

“We had a tough loss with Leah, she was one of our main passers and a great attacker,” said Vargas.

Gregory said her team must work on learning how to attack from the outside and serve more aggressively.

“Our serving was below standard, and we have to have a little more balanced attack. We have to learn how to hit better.”

The Gauchos are on the road for the next two weeks, starting in San Francisco this weekend at the USF Asics Challenge, where they will play the San Francisco, Washington State, and Tulsa.

Their next home game is Sept. 17 against Minnesota at the Thunderdome.