CSUB volleyball sweeps UC Santa Barbara in best performance of season

The performance of the Cal State Bakersfield volleyball team was so good on Thursday night that it was unfamiliar to even the team’s own coach.

“We played in way that I honestly haven’t seen us play before,” head coach Giovana Melo said. “Everybody was on and it hasn’t happened before.”

CSUB (4-6) hit at a season-high 40.2 percent, sided out at a season-best 63 percent and earned its first three-game sweep (25-20, 25-15, 25-22) of the season. It all came at home against a UC Santa Barbara (6-4) team that carried a four-match winning streak into the match.

The game was the first of the the Roadrunner Classic and the first competitive game on CSUB’s new “Kern Schools Court” in the Icardo Center. CSUB will continue the tournament against Montana today at 7 p.m. and South Dakota on Saturday at 5 p.m.

“Hitting wise, we were doing well,” Melo said. “We were passing the ball well. We were serving well. I thought we did a good job in pretty much every aspect of the game.”

Sophomore outside hitter Desiree Sukhov led the way with eight kills while redshirt freshman middle blocker/right side hitter Brooke Boiseau and senior outside hitter Briannah Mariner each had seven. Redshirt junior setter Sidney Wicks tallied 18 assists and sophomore libero Krista Hernandez had a team-high 10 digs.

Melo had driven the idea of being more aggressive into her players’ minds heading into the matchup with UCSB and it payed off immediately. Boiseau slammed a ball at the feet of Gauchos libero Emilia Petrachi to give the Roadrunners a 4-0 lead in the first game. CSUB never trailed in the opening game.

UCSB looked flustered at times as serves that should have gone long would graze a Gaucho’s shoulder and tip shots repeatedly landed at the attacking UCSB player’s feet.

It allowed for a second game in which CSUB had 15 kills on 20 attack attempts (75 percent) and sided out 13 of its 15 chances (86 percent).

UC Santa Barbara only had two total blocks in the entire match.

CSUB focused on “swinging high hands,” over the block or off the blockers’ finger tips, Sukhov said. The Roadrunners worked in the middle of the court, effectively keeping UCSB’s middle blockers in the center, leaving spaces for CSUB’s hitters on the edges to take advantage of, Sukhov added.

Even when the Roadrunners fell behind by five points in the third game, they were able to tie the game at 19 on a successful block and then kill by sophomore Emily Hansen. Mariner finished off the match when a serve receive carried off the net right to her. She spiked the ball into the Roadrunner logo on the court.

CSUB kept UC Santa Barbara hitter Lindsey Ruddins relatively in check with just 12 kills. Ruddins had 33 kills in a four-set win over Texas Tech — which CSUB lost to in three sets. Her average of 5.56 kills per game prior to Thursday was third in the nation.

Mariner attributed the success to the nitpicking of Ruddins that CSUB did in its scouting report.

“Obviously the start of preseason was a little bit rough,” Sukhov said, “but we knew we could make the changes that we needed to change and it was really nice coming out with the W.”

After CSUB’s best performance of the year, the challenge now for Melo and her team is to reproduce the results.

“It’s gonna be something that we work on every single time we step on the court,” Melo said. “We’re young, but we’re talented.”

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