Ruddins, Omwanghe Earn Big West Weekly Honors

Ruddins, Omwanghe Earn Big West Weekly Honors

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After leading the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team to three wins in as many matches, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins and freshman middle blocker Nicole Omwanghe were named the Big West Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively, as announced by the league on Monday afternoon. 

The Gaucho duo propelled their team to a road victory at UC Davis last Tuesday before knocking off Long Beach State and CSUN at home over the weekend. The trio of victories boosted UCSB's league record to 5-4. 

"With a very successful week, it's always great for the players pulling the most weight to be recognized," said UCSB head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. 

Ruddins paced the Gaucho offense all week, posting at least 20 kills in each match including 27 against Long Beach State, a personal season-high for a league tilt. Impressively, she averaged a .300 hitting percentage for the week. No slouch in her defensive responsibilities, Ruddins recorded 31 kills over the first two matches of the week to record her team-leading sixth and seventh double-doubles of the year. She was also a factor at the net, recording three block solos for the week including two crucial solo efforts against Long Beach State to capture the first game in an eventual four-set win. 

It was the second career Big West Player of the Week honor for Ruddins after taking home five Freshman of the Week honors in 2016. After posting 6.64 kills per set for the week, the reigning Big West Freshman of the Year is right on the heels of Arkansas's Pilar Victoria for the national lead in kills average (5.74 to 5.62).  

"Lindsey had a phenomenal week – it isn't just the number of kills and doing that while hitting .300 as an outside, but it is also performing that highly when the other team is trying to set up their defense to stop you," said Lantagne Welch. "She's getting smarter as an attacker and adjusting her approach based on how the defense is playing her. She also worked hard to improve her blocking, and that showed up in the matches this week alongside her defensive efforts in the back row."

Omwanghe continued a breakout freshman season with a trio of solid performances last week. The Claremont, Calif. native posted seven kills on .417 hitting against UC Davis while chipping in four blocks. She had her best offensive performance of the week against LBSU on Friday, notching 11 kills on .450 hitting. She finished up with a seven-block performance against CSUN, helping that Gauchos to a 13-5 advantage over the Matadors in blocks. 

"Nicole is just starting to scratch the surface on what she could become," said Lantagne Welch. "She was very effective on the slide and is starting to make teams pay for keying in on Lindsey. Her blocking was consistent all week and she helped us keep Long Beach and CSUN below their normal attacking averages."

It was the second career Freshman of the Week award for Omwanghe, who was also honored on Sept. 25 after hitting .500 in league wins over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton. 

UCSB wraps up a three-match homestand on Saturday night against Hawai'i. That contest is scheduled for an earlier-than-usual start time of 5:00 p.m., and will be played at Rob Gym, not the Thunderdome.