For decades, Santa Barbara has been known as a volleyball powerhouse, grooming such top-caliber players as Karch Kiraly and Todd Rogers. Now, Santa Barbara volleyball is entering a new era of dominance as the Santa Barbara City College Lady Vaqueros finish their regular season with a record-breaking 14-match winning streak and look onward to California State Championships.
Led by head coach Ed Gover, the Vaqueros began the season with a somewhat rocky start at 2-6 in mid September. “Those losses were all against teams that are ranked Top 10 in the state. We realized that we needed to make line-up changes,” explained Gover. Evidently, these strategic changes sparked an unprecedented wining streak that left previous school records in the dust. With momentum aplenty, the Vaqueros began their 10-match climb over tough division teams, such as Ventura and Moorpark. After several grinding games and nail-biting rallies, Santa Barbara City College seized the WSC South title for the third time in four years with a perfect 10-0 record for only the second time in SBCC history.
Fittingly, Gover coached the Vaqueros in both undefeated seasons (1997 and 2012). Beginning his coaching with SBCC in 1991, Gover has guided his girls to six WSC titles in his 22 seasons and claimed recognition as Coach of the Year three times running. While he has seen so much success in regular season play, Gover explained that the trials come in playoffs. “What we’re trying to do is find the top two teams in the South that are going to go to the Final Four and play the top two from the North. Out of those four, one is declared the state champion. We were in the finals one year. We were the runners-up”.
As SBCC is seeded 12th for the Southern Cal Regional, they will be the road team in each playoff encounter. However, Coach Gover counts this fact to their benefit. “More than likely, we will play one of the teams that we lost to at the beginning of the season. We have the people in place now and the line-up is our strongest line-up.” This Tuesday, November 20, the Santa Barbara City College Women’s Volleyball team (16-6) faces their first playoff opponent, No. 5 Orange Coast (18-2) in Costa Mesa. For more info on this outstanding group of athletes, visit www.sbcc.cc.ca.us/womensvolleyball/index.php.