SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team closed out the Thunderdome Classic on Saturday with 3-1 wins over Sacred Heart and Seton Hall, claiming its second tournament championship in three weeks.
Tournament MVP honors went to redshirt junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, who punished defenses all weekend to the tune of an exorbitant 7.08 kills per set average. Juniors Torre Glasker and Charlie Robinson also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team after averaging 3.17 kills (.289) and 0.92 blocks per set.
"I thought that we had a really great team effort tonight. A lot of people came in, put us in a good situation and made plays when we needed them," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "Our offensive continues to be very efficient and we stepped it up defensively when we needed to."
UCSB vs. Sacred Heart
The Gauchos cruised to a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart to open the day, 25-13, 25-13, 23-25, 25-18. UCSB hit over .300 as a team in all four sets, outhitting the Pioneers .389 to .168 for the match.
Early dominance from the home side meant it didn't have to rely as heavily on Ruddins as the previous night, when she had at least 15 kill attempts in four straight sets. Against the Pioneers, she averaged just eight attempts over the first two games, both 25-13 UCSB wins. She and Glasker were remarkably efficient with their chances though, tallying 10 kills apiece on a combined .576 hitting percentage.
UCSB's momentum would stall in the third set, as Sacred Heart had by far its best offensive series hitting .400 as a team. The Pioneers controlled game three early on, but a 5-1 Gaucho run that included a pair of Lovenberg aces tied things at 11-11. Things remained close until three unanswered SHU points gave the visitors a 23-20 advantage. The Pioneers were able to hold off a late UCSB rally, as two kills from All-Tournament selection Liisel Nelis gave them a 25-23 win.
Santa Barbara got out to another slow start in set four, trailing 11-8 following a service error. Uninterested in going five sets, Ruddins would take control from there, spearheading a 17-7 Gaucho run to close out the match. She had nine kills over that span, setting a season-high with 12 in the fourth set alone.
Glasker ended the match with a career-high 15 kills (.448) and had 10 digs for her sixth double-double of the year. Senior libero Emilia Petrachi and freshman defensive specialist Zoe Fleck went for 14 and 10 scoops, respectively. It was Petrachi's 15th straight contest reaching double-figure digs, while Fleck did it for the second time this season. Fleck's dangerous serve also saw her record a match-high four aces. UCSB had nine as a team, its second-highest total this year.
Ruddins had 26 kills (.423), four digs and a pair of blocks. Freshman setter Olivia Lovenberg just missed out on a double-double with 48 assists and nine digs.
UCSB vs. Seton Hall
The final match of the weekend followed a familiar pattern, as UCSB came out strong and jumped out to a 2-1 lead, eventually winning 25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19. Ruddins went for a casual 26 kills once again, continuously pounding the Pirate back line while hitting at a .412 clip. She also added 11 digs, tying Glasker for the team-lead with her sixth double-double of the year.
Glasker finished with 12 kills, nine scoops and a career-high four blocks. Middle blockers Charlie Robinson and Rowan Ennis had five blocks apiece, posting nine and seven kills, respectively. Lovenberg kept her numbers consistent with 47 assists, six digs and three blocks.
The tandem of Ruddins and Glasker got UCSB out to a strong start with six and five first set kills, respectively, as the Gauchos took an early 12-5 advantage. Santa Barbara's lead wouldn't drop below three the rest of the game, which ended 25-21 in the home side's favor.
After dropping set two 25-18, the Gauchos enjoyed one of their most lopsided sets of the match in game three, outhitting the Pirates .522 to .207. Ruddins led the way with eight kills as UCSB took the set, 25-21. Ruddins helped put the match away with another eight kills in set four, which the Gauchos won 25-19.
"I like where we are, and I know this team has a lot of room for growth which is exciting," Lantagne Welch said. "It's grueling playing in tournaments and to come out three in a row and be better with the energy tonight was a step forward for this team. I look forward to seeing the other changes and adjustments we spend time on in practice continue to improve."
Petrachi had eight digs in the match, falling short of at least 14 for her first time as a senior. However, with 46 digs (3.83 D/S) over the weekend, she now has 1,593 in her career. That moves her past Kristie Ryan (1,580 digs, 1989-92) for No. 5 all-time in the UCSB record book.
UCSB won't return home until its Big West opener against UC Irvine on Sept. 18, but the Gauchos will play three matches at the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunner Classic. Santa Barbara returns to action against CSUB on Sept. 13 at 6:00 p.m.
THREE AND CHOS... @UCSB_Volleyball an unbeaten weekend & 4th win in a row, 3-1 over Seton Hall.— Big West Volleyball (@BigWestWVB) September 9, 2018
Lindsey Ruddins gunning for another #BWCAOTW with 26k (.412) + 11d-2sa-2b.
Torre Glasker 12k-9d-4b; Charlie Robinson 9k-5b; Olivia Lovenberg 47a-6d-3b.#GauchoPride #PlayBig pic.twitter.com/gdYaS4xZI1