Gauchos knocked from first-place perch

FULLERTON – In a key conference match, the UCSB women’s volleyball team fell in consecutive sets to Cal State Fullerton on Friday night, 26-24, 25-17, 25-18, dropping the Gauchos from first place into a tie for second place.

UCSB falls to 13-10 overall and 7-3 in the Big West. The Titans improve to 18-5 on the year and 7-2 in Big West action and also jump to 12-1 in Titan Gym. With the win on Friday night, the Titans tie their school record for wins in a season and also sweep UC Santa Barbara in the season series for the first time in program history.

The good news for the Gauchos in the Big West race was that their Saturday opponent, Long Beach State, lost to Cal Poly in the Pyramid. The standings now look like this: Fullerton (7-2, .778), Cal Poly (8-3, .727), UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis (7-3, .700), and Long Beach State (6-3, .667).

CSUF’s Erin Saddler was key to the victory Friday night, blasting six kills in the first set, seven in the second set and four in the third to lift the Titans to their 16th sweep of the season. The senior hit .273 on the match and also added three blocks, five digs and an ace to the cause.

UCSB hit just .186 as a team as Kara Sherrard had a team-best 11 kills as the only Gaucho to reach double figures. Kelly Heenan had 15 digs for the Gauchos while Charlene DeHoog had 12.

“We had a great defensive effort but offensively we just weren’t strong enough tonight,” said UCSB head coach Kathy Gregory.

After hitting .279 as a team the Gauchos hit just .139 and .118 in the next two sets. Dana Vargas had 31 assists for the Gauchos. Stacey Schmidt had nine kills while Kasey Kipp had four kills and four block assists.

The Gauchos finish their road trip with a match on Saturday at Long Beach State at 7 p.m. UCSB returns home for its longest homestand of the season with four matches, beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 2 vs. UC Riverside.