UC Santa Barbara 3, Alabama A&M 0

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In one of its most dominating performances of 2004, the 13th-seeded UC Santa Barbara womens volleyball team opened NCAA Tournament play Friday with a 30-11, 30-23, 30-11 sweep of Alabama A&M in OKeefe Gymnasium.

With their 14th straight victory, the Gauchos also ranked 16th nationally improved to 24-6 overall, while AAMU concluded its season at 22-6. UCSB advances to face Georgia Tech in second round play on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 2:00 p.m. EST/11:00 a.m. PST. The host Yellow Jackets were 3-0 winners over Georgia in Fridays other first-round match in Atlanta.

"We were a bit rusty, but if you can pull out a win thats the most important thing." Santa Barbara head coach Kathy Gregory stated. "Everybody got a chance to play, and our serving was excellent. I give Alabama A&M credit for hanging tough in game two."

UCSB opened its first-ever meeting with the Lady Dogs with a pair of service aces courtesy of sophomore outside hitter Jamie Garbisch and never looked back in game one. Following a 5-0 run that included a pair of Olivia Waldowski kills and made the scoreboard read 9-2, A&M head coach Betty Austin called timeout. However that break did little to stop the bleeding as Austin again asked for a stoppage of play with her team trailing 19-6. The Gauchos hit a blistering .428 during the opening frame en route to their most convincing win in any game this season.

The Lady Dogs regrouped for game two, holding their first lead of the evening at 6-5 when senior Princess Dixson and junior Elizabeth McDuffie teamed for a big block. The same duo again thwarted Santa Barbaras attack to pull their squad within 16-15 and force Gregory to call timeout. The Gauchos prevented the Southwestern Athletic Conference champs from rallying any further, and a 4-0 run highlighted by two more Garbisch aces gave them a 23-17 advantage. AAMU would not close within four points the rest of the way as UCSB went into the locker rooms ahead 2-0.

The third game was reminiscent of the first, with Santa Barbara relying on precision serving and hitting while its opponent struggled in both areas. A string of eight unanswered points ignited by sophomore outside hitter Janine Sandells big slam put the Gauchos ahead 20-6, while Waldowski served up their 13th ace of the match a new season high during a later 7-0 spurt. The contest ended on an Alabama A&M service error.

Waldowski led all players with 13 kills, hitting a sparkling .688 that ranks as the most accurate performance ever by a UCSB player in NCAA tourney competition. As a team, the three-time defending Big West Conference champions connected at a season-best .370 clip. Sandell also had the hot hand, hitting .600 with 12 put-aways, while Garbisch enjoyed a nice all-around match with six kills as well as a match-high nine digs and five aces. Santa Barbara has enjoyed double-digit aces in each of its past three contests.

Senior outside hitter Phyllis Hetie tallied 11 kills to lead the Lady Dogs, who became the eighth Gaucho opponent in 2004 to hit below .100.

Saturdays showdown between UCSB and Georgia Tech can be heard live on KCSB 91.9 FM as well as www.kcsb.org. The winner will advance to NCAA Regional Semifinal play in Minneapolis on Friday, Dec. 10, where fourth-seeded Minnesota awaits on its home court.

"This match [against GT] is going to be one of our most difficult this season," Gregory said while inside the noisy 1,356 OKeefe Gym.. "Their outside hitters are exceptional, and they were two points away from advancing to the Final Four last year. Were going to need a good, balanced attack and well have to leave it all on the court if we want to advance to Regionals."

--Courtesy UCSB