Gauchos get back on track with sweep of Highlanders

UCSB's Stacey Schmidt goes up for a kill against UC Riverside.

The UCSB women’s volleyball team came out strong and didn’t let up against UC Riverside on Tuesday night, collecting a 25-14, 25-15, 25-14 Big West victory at the Thunderdome.

The overwhelming win against the Highlanders was a needed self-esteem boost after a pair of losses over the weekend dropped UCSB from first place to fourth in conference. The Gauchos lost to Cal State Fullerton in three sets on Friday, dropping them from first place to a tie for second, and then lost to Long Beach State in three sets the next day, dropping them further into a tie for fourth.

“It was good for us because we needed to change our energy from losing and get focused and come back and show that we are a much better team,” said head coach Kathy Gregory.

Stacey Schmidt, who came through with 10 kills and five blocks, agreed that the game was the confidence boost the team needed for their upcoming matches.

“It was really nice to get back in the swing of things,” Schmidt said. “I just think we really got our rhythm back after a few bad matches. We’re confident that we can win the rest of conference matches and hopefully make it to the playoffs.”

UCSB's Kara Sherrard goes low to get a dig against UC Riverside. (Vince Agapito Photos)


The Gauchos’ win bumped them up into a tie with Cal Poly for the number three spot, and brought their record to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in the conference. They face the Mustangs Saturday night in UCSB’s Thunderdome.

Gregory highlights the importance of her team’s next three home games – all against teams ahead of UCSB going into Tuesday – in their hopes of reaching the NCAA playoffs.

Setter Dana Vargas jumps to set for UCSB

“We control our destiny. We know that if we’re going to go to the NCAA’s we’re going to have to win the rest of our games. They are all very good teams and they’re also competing to get into the NCAA’s. We appreciate that we get to play three more home games and we’re just going to take them one at a time.”

Gregory’s plan for the game against Riverside was to really get her star players involved and to get the whole team playing with more energy. Her plan was definitely followed as a whole.

The Gauchos dominated the match, thanks to the efforts of a number of players such as Kasey Kipp, who matched Schmidt’s 10 kills for the team lead. Kara Sherrard recorded team highs with 16 digs and three aces to go with her eight kills while Charlene DeHoog collected 12 digs and eight kills. Dana Vargas dished out 34 assists.

Schmidt’s ten kills were a career high.

UCSB's athletic Dana Vargas goes down to her knees to back-set to her teammate.

“I’m more of an impact player than I was last year which is nice and I feel like I’m getting more sets this year,” said Schmidt. “It’s nice to be a more important part of the team. Last year I was used to just playing more of a back up role. I wasn’t considered a main hitter. But this year I think my team depends on me to get a good number of kills a game.”

Kelly Simpson led the Highlanders, who are winless in the Big West, with ten kills and nine digs.

Though the Gauchos won decisively against the Highlanders, Gregory believes that her team cannot let its guard down in the matches ahead.

“I felt like we were competing even though we had a big lead. We weren’t just complacent. The team has to play with the eye of a tiger and realize that there’s no tomorrow. We have four games left and you have to leave it all on the court.”

The Highlanders record is 2-24 overall and 0-10 in the Big West.


  1. Nice work! Way to turn it around!