Frantic Finish Sees UCSB Fall Short 3-2 at Denver Classic

Photo by JC Corliss
Photo by JC Corliss

Denver, Colo. – UC Santa Barbara found itself on the wrong side of a furious finish Friday evening at the Denver Classic, falling to the host Pioneers 22-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-11, 23-25.

Despite outscoring Denver by 11 points for the night, the Gauchos (2-2) dropped the decisive fifth game following 17 ties and six lead changes. The Pioneers (3-1) claimed the final three points of the match for their 10th-straight home victory dating back to 2017.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins had her most efficient offensive outing so far this season, hitting at a .300 clip and .386 kill percentage on the way to a match-high 27 kills. It was the second time in three outings that she reached 27 kills, once again falling just one shy of cracking the program's single-match top-10. She also added 12 digs and four blocks for her third double-double.

Setter Olivia Lovenberg set a career-high with 55 assists, one short of the current Big West season-high. The freshman played a part in 17 of UCSB's final 23 points, registering 14 assists, two kills and a solo block in the fifth set alone. She also earned her third double-double with 10 digs and three blocks and was a perfect 3-for-3 on attacks.

Defensively, senior libero Emilia Petrachi finished with 20 digs, marking her second 20-dig outing of the year, while junior middle blocker Rowan Ennis had a match-high five blocks. Ennis was one of three Gauchos to reach 10 kills, going for 11 on an efficient .476 hitting percentage.

Junior Charlie Robinson joined Ennis in the double-digit kill department, tallying a personal-best 14 kills on a .423 clip. Five of her kills came in the fourth set, when she led UCSB to a commanding 25-11 win. The Gauchos enjoyed perhaps their best game yet this year, breaking a 4-4 tie and embarking on a 13-1 run that was book-ended by a pair of Ruddins kills.

Junior outside hitter Torre Glasker missed out on a double-double for the first time in a Gaucho uniform, but still had eight kills, 14 digs and three blocks.

Denver jumped out a 3-0 lead out of the gates, but the Gauchos answered with a 5-1 run to take a 5-4 advantage. A back-and-forth opening set yielded 11 ties and four lead changes, with the last tie coming at 15-15 on the heels of a Pioneer attacking error. The home side would then take command with a 6-1 run, eventually winning it 25-22 despite five early kills from Ruddins.

Trailing 4-6 in set two, the Gauchos would take control by scoring seven unanswered. The visitors took their largest lead of the game, 15-8, on one of eight second set kills by Ruddins. They went on to win the game 25-19 after scoring seven of the final 10 points.

Another closely fought set followed, which UCSB tied 18-18 after kills from Ruddins and Ennis. Denver went on to take seven of the final 10 points for a 25-21 win, retaking a 2-1 lead.

The Gauchos return to action for two more matches tomorrow, beginning with Sacramento State at 9:00 a.m. PT. They will close out the weekend at 3:00 p.m. against McNeese State.