UCSB Hosts No. 17 Cal Poly Friday Coming Off Huge Upset

Nicole Omwanghe (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Nicole Omwanghe (Photo by Jeff Liang)
• The Schedule
Friday, November 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara (14-9, 6-5) vs. No. 17 Cal Poly (20-2, 10-1)
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. Mustangs: 49-31
Record in Lantagne Welch era: 5-6
Streak vs. CP: Lost 3
Last meeting: L, 3-0 (10/12/18 @ CP)
• UCSB First Big West Team to Sweep UH at Home
UC Santa Barbara (14-9, 6-5) closed out its road trip with a bang last Saturday, handing Hawaii just its second conference loss of the season in a 3-0 sweep on the road. With perhaps their most memorable upset since the last time they won at UH back in 2013, the Gauchos became the first Big West team to sweep the Rainbow Wahine at Stan Sheriff Center since they joined the conference in 2012. Lindsey and Gigi Ruddins led all players with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, while Emilia Petrachi (16 digs) and Nicole Omwanghe (7 blocks) held things down on the defensive end. For the second straight meeting, UCSB held Hawaii to a season-low in hitting percentage (.118).
• Look Out Below!
One year after becoming the first Gaucho to lead the country in kill average, outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins looks primed to finish second in the nation as a redshirt junior, currently averaging 5.37 kills per set. Within the conference, she is third in aces (34), 12th in digs (250) and 17th in hitting percentage (.261). With 11 kills at Hawaii on Saturday, she moved past both Lauren McLaughlin (1,417 kills, 2005-08) and Erica Menzel (1,422 kills, 2000-03) for No. 6 all-time at UCSB, currently at 1,427 for her career. The previous week, she posted 55 kills (5.50 K/S) over two matches en route to her fourth Big West Player of the Week award of the year and the eighth of her career, placing her in a three-way tie for the fifth-most in Big West history. No player in program history has had more than four in their career.
• Petrachi Breaks All-Time Digs Record
As she has for much of her career, libero Emilia Petrachi has been a consistent defensive force for the Gauchos all season, currently on pace to lead the Big West in digs per set for the third straight year with conference-leading marks of 4.82 D/S and 434 total digs. With her eighth dig against CSUN on Oct. 2, Petrachi surpassed Leah Sully for the program's all-time digs record. Playing in her 107th consecutive match this past week, Petrachi's 16 digs (5.33 D/S) put her at 1,856 for her career, just 50 shy of No. 4 all-time in the Big West. She has led her team in digs in all but three matches this year, in an astounding 91 times in her career (85% of total matches), and has had double-figure digs on 95 occasions. The Modena, Italy native owns the conference record for Big West Defensive Player of the Week awards (8), having taken home three in her senior year.
• Blue-Green Rivalry: Part II
After four straight on the road, the Gauchos are set to play three of their final five matches at the Thunderdome, beginning with No. 17 Cal Poly this Friday at 7:00 p.m. The two sides last met back in a 3-0 Mustang win back on Oct. 12, in a match which Lindsey Ruddins led all players with 18 kills but Cal Poly's offense couldn't be stopped with a .386 to .167 advantage in hitting percentage. The Mustangs' (20-2, 10-1) only conference loss this season came last week, 3-2 at Hawaii, against a team the Gauchos just swept on the road. They are the Big West's leader in hitting percentage (.293) by a wide margin, led by their dynamite outside hitter Torrey Van Winden, who leads the conference at a .370 clip and sits third in kills per set (5.05).
• Fantastic Freshman
Setter Olivia Lovenberg has been outstanding for the Gauchos in her freshman season, ranking 22nd in the nation in assists per set (11.07) and 26th in total assists (996). Since bursting onto the scene with back-to-back Big West Freshman of the Week awards to open her career, Lovenberg has recorded three of the top-four assist performances in the Big West this year, setting a conference-wide-high with 62 assists (12.4 A/S) against UC Davis on Sept. 29. She needs just four more assists to become just the second Gaucho to cross the 1,000 assist mark during the Lantagne Welch era.
• Middle Blocker Mania
Santa Barbara's leading middle blockers are enjoying career seasons in their third year with the team. Charlie Robinson is averaging personal-best of 1.89 kills per set on a .309 hitting percentage, the latter of which ranks sixth in the conference. She had the most prolific scoring night of her career, shattering her previous-best with 22 kills (.526) to go along with five blocks against UC Davis on Sept. 29.  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. Speaking of Ennis, she currently ranks in the top-11 for both hitting percentage (.285) and blocks per set (0.81), also averaging a career-best 2.02 kills per set. She has reached double-digit kills in three of her last five outings, including setting a season-high with 14 against LBSU.
• Defense, Defense, Defense!
UCSB's defense has shined thus far during Big West play, as the Gauchos have racked up 767 digs and 17.43 D/S, both conference-leading marks. Four different Gauchos currently rank in the conference's top-15 in digs. They are: Emilia Petrachi (1st, 237), Lindsey Ruddins (11th, 122), Zoe Fleck (16th, 106), and Torre Glasker (17th, 102). As a team, Santa Barbara had zero 80-dig performances through its first 15 contests of 2018, but it has hit that mark three times during conference play. UCSB's 102 digs against UC Davis on Sept. 29 were the most of the Lantagne Welch era and just two shy of reaching the program's all-time top-10.
• On The Money
After having just two Gauchos averaging at least 1.70 K/S last year, UCSB has upped it to five players in 2018. Backing up Ruddins' offensive dominance are Torre Glasker (2.34 K/S), Rowan Ennis (2.02), Gigi Ruddins (1.96) and Charlie Robinson (1.89). As a result, the Gauchos are second in the conference in kills (1,208) and hitting percentage (.232). Over 28 matches last year, excluding Ruddins, there were 17 double-digit kill efforts. This year, there have been 26 through 23 contests.
• Weekly Accolades
The Gauchos have claimed nine out of 30 Big West weekly accolades this year. Ruddins (BW Player of the Week) has led the way with four, while Petrachi (Defensive PoW) has earned three and Lovenberg (Freshman PoW) has two.
• Serve's Up
Santa Barbara's serving has been one of its most prolific weapons this year, currently leading the Big West at 1.60 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 34 (0.38 SA/S). Lexi Rottman sits 5th with 26 (0.32 SA/S), and Torre Glasker comes in at No. 6 with 24 (0.29 SA/S). 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.
• 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 through their first 15 matches.
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.