Another Balanced Attack Sees Gauchos Cruise to Season-Series Sweep of CSF

Photo by Jeff Liang
Photo by Jeff Liang

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team claimed a season-series sweep over Cal State Fullerton on Friday night, defeating the Titans in three sets for the second time in two months, 25-18, 25-16, 25-20.

In a match which the Gauchos were in complete control of from the opening set, Lindsey (15 kills) and Gigi Ruddins (10) spearheaded a highly-efficient offensive attack which recorded a new conference-best .308 team hitting percentage. That mark was more than four percentage points higher than Santa Barbara's previous Big West-high of .266, which was set the last time they faced Fullerton back in September.

"I thought we had some nice balance and it was great to have so many people hitting at a high percentage," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "It was a really good team effort."

It was the second straight win for UCSB (16-11, 8-7) and its 12th consecutive over the Titans (6-23, 0-15) dating back to 2012.

Three Gauchos finished in double-digit digs for the third straight match, led by junior Torre Glasker with 13. Senior Emilia Petrachi added 12 while freshman Zoe Fleck finished with 11. Their efforts on the defensive end saw UCSB average 20 digs per set, well above its season-average, helping hold the Titans to a .115 hitting percentage.

The elder Ruddins came out firing in set one, leading the way with six kills on just 11 attempts. The Gauchos never trailed in the opening game, leading by as many as seven points on several occasions, including on the set-clinching kill by middle blocker Nicole Omwanghe.

Set two put the Ruddins duo on full display, as the sisters matched each other with five kills apiece. The Gauchos scored three unanswered points to start and end the set, once again never trailing. They would take their largest lead of the night on a Lindsey Ruddins kill to claim a 25-16 win and a 2-0 lead.

Fullerton would have its best chance to steal a game in set three, trailing by just two points late on at 20-18. However, despite looking like a Titan kill was on its way to cut it to a one-point deficit, a spectacular dig by Fleck extended what turned into a long rally, eventually resulting in a Rowan Ennis kill and the loudest reaction of the night from the Thunderdome crowd. Fleck tallied a pair of digs on that point and two more on the next, which the elder Ruddins would turn into a kill, ending hopes of a late Fullerton surge.

UCSB's middle-blocker trio of Nicole Omwanghe, Rowan Ennis and Charlie Robinson, all chipped in with at least six kills, Omwanghe leading the way with seven. Ennis also contributed at the net with a match-high three blocks. Lindsey Ruddins had two blocks, while her sister Gigi recorded her first career solo block and Omwanghe added another.

"Charlie was really strong there on the right, and we were able to get our middles going," said Lantagne Welch. "People stepped in for serving, Zoe for passing, Torre for defense. It was a great team win."

The younger Ruddins had 10 kills for the third time in her last five outings, each time coinciding with a Gaucho victory.

"Gigi's really expanding her range as an attacker and she has to go up against two blockers a lot," Lantagne Welch said. "She's finding a rhythm with that though, and she has good vision out there. I think she just keeps gaining confidence."

On Saturday, UCSB will look to earn another season sweep when it takes on UC Riverside at 7:00 p.m. Prior to the match, the Gauchos will be honoring their three seniors during a pregame Senior Night ceremony.