On the evening of Nov. 13, the UC Irvine Women’s Volleyball team displayed an outstanding effort against the 18th-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Crawford Court.
The Gauchos boosted their overall record to 21-3 overall, as they won three out of four games that night with scores f 19-30, 30-24, 30-28, 33-31.
UCI senior outside hitter Kelly Wing led all players with 27 kills and finished with 21 digs.
Yet that was still not enough to overcome the Gauchos.
It was Wing’s last home game of the season as well as three other seniors: middle blocker Dana Kurzbard, setter Ashlie Hain and middle blocker Sami Cash. Before the game, the audience at Crawford Court applauded during the senior ceremony to bid the four senior ladies farewell.
‘It hasn’t hit yet [that we’re leaving]. I feel like I’m still coming back for winter practice,’ said Cash.
Cash soared in the first game with two blocks and a kill, bringing UCI to a bigger lead of 21-15. UCI prevailed with a 30-19 win.
But UCSB proved their first place status in the Big West as they spiked their way back to win the next three straight games in a row.
‘[UC Santa Barbara] is a great team with a great defense. They just keep it coming and they definitely won’t roll ones for you,’ said Hain who was in good spirits.
Hain produced a remarkable 58 assists and 18 digs while fighting to keep UCI alive against UCSB.
‘It’s unbelievable to have been here for so long and to have done so much in this gym. It still doesn’t sink in yet that it’s over,’ Hain said.
It was a huge home game as the CIA, the UCI band and a large number of fans were in attendance for the team’s last home game of the season.
In game four, Kurzbard stepped up with a much-needed kill to bring UCI to 26 points, forcing UCSB to take a time-out.
Although UCI was able to tie UCSB and push six strenuous game points, UCSB still came up victorious.
‘Santa Barbara played very well, like league champions,’ said UCI Head Coach Charlie Brande.
Brande has coached all four seniors in four of the five seasons he has been the head coach here at UCI.
‘I don’t know if anyone can understand just how much of a family this whole experience has made us,’ Brande said. ‘This was a great way for the seniors to finish their careers. To go from a 4-21 record team to [what we are now] just shows how far these girls have taken [the UCI Women’s Volleyball program].’
But with sad goodbyes always come happy beginnings as Brande looks forward to the future of the 2005 season and ‘sustaining our nationwide recognition.’
UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory also commented on the effort displayed by UCI this evening.
‘Irvine played one of the hardest games [for us] with the best defense I’ve seen them play,’ Gregory said. ‘Their grit and grind tonight showed they were well coached. It was an inspiration for senior night.’
The UCI women now look forward to two away games next week against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.