History Awaits as UCSB Closes Home Stand vs. CSUN, Hawaii

Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
 
• The Schedule
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Northridge
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. Matadors: 36-10
Record in Lantagne Welch era: 6-4
Streak vs. CSUN: Won 1
Last meeting: W, 3-0 (10/21/18 @ UCSB)
 
Friday, October 5, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara vs. Hawaii
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. Rainbow Wahine: 6-38
Record in Lantagne Welch era: 1-9
Streak vs. UH: Lost 9
Last meeting: L, 3-1 (10/28/17 @ UCSB)
 
• Defense Shines, Gauchos Split Home Matches
UC Santa Barbara (11-6, 3-2) had two of its best defensive performances of the season this past week, amassing 182 digs (20.2 D/S) as a team, resulting in a 3-1 win over Long Beach State and a 3-2 defeat to UC Davis. Emilia Petrachi went for 28 and 27 digs, respectively, while Lindsey Ruddins paced the offense with 24 and 26 kills.
 
• Petrachi Set to Break All-Time Digs Record
The 55 digs (6.11 D/S) accumulated by UCSB's defensive anchor this past weekend were the most she has ever accumulated over a two-match span in her illustrious career. That resulted in her being named the Big West's Defensive Player of the Week for the second straight week, the third time this year, and the eighth time since 2015, the last of which set a conference record.
 
Entering this Tuesday's match against CSUN, the Modena, Italy native has 62 more digs this season than any other player in the Big West. Now with 1,735 career digs, her stellar defensive efforts this past weekend moved her into No. 2 in UCSB history. Petrachi is just eight away from surpassing Leah Sully's (1,742) all-time mark, which she is expected to break in the 7:00 p.m. home match-up with the Matadors.
 
• Ruddins Repeats As Well
For the third time this year, Petrachi's Defensive PoW win was paired by Lindsey Ruddins taking home Big West Player of the Week honors. Ruddins – who currently leads the Big West and ranks No. 2 nationally with a 5.55 kills per set average – refused to slow down during the second week of league play, racking up 50 more kills (5.56 K/S), 23 digs (2.56 D/S) and five blocks (0.56 B/S) while hitting at an efficient .283 clip. She became just the 12th player in conference history to be named the Big West PoW for the seventh time in her career. No other Gaucho has won more than four.
 
• Conference Week Three Preview
The Gauchos are set to close out their season-long four-match home stand this week against CSUN (5-10, 1-2) and Hawaii (8-5, 4-0). As a team, UCSB carries No. 1 and No. 2 conference rankings, respectively, in kills per set (13.83 K/S) and hitting percentage (.250). Those figures figure to bode well against a Matador side which sits last in the Big West in opponent hitting percentage (.249), blocks (1.50 B/S) and digs (12.83 D/S).
 
The Rainbow Wahine will provide a very different challenge, however, as they look to take home their 10th straight win over the Gauchos dating back to head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch's first year with the team back in 2013.  Hawaii possesses one of the most potent offensive units in the conference, led by outside hitter Mckenna Granato who ranks seventh in the conference at 3.43 kills per set. As a team, the Rainbow Wahine lead the Big West in assists per set (13.21 A/S) and are second to UCSB in kills (13.83 K/S).
 
• Robinson Gets Hot Against Davis
Middle blocker Charlie Robinson entered last week's slate never before having recorded more than 14 kills in a single match. The junior from Pacific Palisades, Calif. found herself in an absolute zone Saturday night against the Aggies, as she went off for a career-best 22 kills (.526) to go along with five blocks. The only other middle blockers to come close to that mark during the Lantagne Welch era (since 2013) are Phoebe Grunt and Rowan Ennis, both of whom recorded one 17-kill outing apiece during the 2016 season.
 
• Sweet September
UCSB began the year 10-5 overall, tied for its best start to a campaign since 2009.  That marked the second time in three years that the Gauchos had 10 wins at that point of the season. The early success can be attributed to a 9-4 September in which the Gauchos have had three separate winning streaks and enjoyed a 30-15 advantage in sets won.
 
• Defense, Defense, Defense!
UCSB fell just short of a 2-0 sweep last week, but it wasn't due to a lack of defensive effort. After setting a 2018-high with 80 digs in the win over the 49ers, the Gauchos followed that up with a whopping 102 digs and 13 blocks in the loss to the Aggies, both season-highs. It was the most team digs in the Lantagne Welch era. UCSB is averaging 19.85 digs per set during conference play, which is over three more than the next best team.
 
• What A Difference A Year Makes
While Lindsey Ruddins' offensive dominance has persisted this year, there have been a few differences. For one, her attempts have gone down slightly from a record-setting 15.18 per set in 2017 to 14.50 this season, a function of her hitting percentage jumping from .265 to a career-best .282. More importantly though is the fact that she has had significantly more help on offense this season compared to last. Last year, there were 17 double-digit kill efforts aside from Ruddins over the course of 28 matches. Through 15 contests this season, there were 18. Junior Torre Glasker is second on the team with eight.
 
• Weekly Award Dominance
After earning their third weekly honors of 2018 this week, Lindsey Ruddins (7) and Emilia Petrachi (8) extended their already firm grasp over the program records for Big West Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week. UCSB has dominated the awards thus far, winning eight of the first 15 this season.
 
• Fantastic Freshman
Freshman setter Olivia Lovenberg finished with career-highs of 62 assists and 13 digs against UC Davis, the former being good for the most of any Big West player in 2018. Since bursting onto the scene with back-to-back Big West Freshman of the Week awards to open her career, Lovenberg has not stopped leading the conference this season in both assists per set (11.45) and total assists (756) by a wide margin. She is on pace for 1,245 assists this season, which would make her just the second Gaucho to cross the 1,000 assist mark during the Lantagne Welch era.
 
• Serve's Up
Santa Barbara's serving has been one of the most prolific in the nation this year, currently leading the Big West at 1.65 aces per set overall. That can be attributed to the fact that three Gauchos currently make up the conference's top-6 for individual aces. Lindsey Ruddins ranks third with 24, Lexi Rottman sits 4th with 20, and Torre Glasker comes in at No. 6 with 17. In the Gauchos' win over Montana on Sept. 14, Rottman finished with the most aces per set (2.33 SA/S) in the Big West this season. It was both the second-highest aces per set average and the second-most total aces for a single match in UCSB's rally scoring history. 
 
• UCSB on ESPN3
The Gauchos will play their only ESPN3 matchup during conference play when they travel to face UC Irvine on Nov. 8 at 7:00 p.m.