UCSB Welcomes UCLA and Pepperdine to the Thunderdome this Week

Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by James Colon)
Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by James Colon)

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The Schedule 
Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (8-1) vs. UCLA (5-3)
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Bruins: 7-36
Streak vs. UCLA: Lost 2
Last meeting: Sept. 13, 2015 (L, 3-0)
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com
Video: BigWest TV

Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (8-1) vs. Pepperdine (3-6)
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Waves: 29-23
Streak vs. Pepperdine: Lost 5
Last meeting: Aug. 29, 2015 (L, 3-1)
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com
Video: BigWest TV

Thunderdome Classic Champions
The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team looked sharp over the weekend, going 3-0 to win the Thunderdome Classic and improve to 8-1 on the year. The Gauchos have now won six straight matches after taking care of business against RV San Diego 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22), La Salle 3-0 (31-29, 25-21, 25-22) and Harvard 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-10, 25-17). Junior middle blocker Rowan Ennis was named the Thunderdome Classic MVP while senior Lindsey Ruddins and freshman Tallulah Froley joined her on the All-Tournament Team. 

Thunderdome Classic Highlights

The Week Ahead
After three straight tournaments to start the season, winning two of them, the Gauchos will round out its non-conference slate this weekend with a pair of matches at home. UCSB will welcome UCLA (5-3) to the Thunderdome this Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 6:00 p.m. and will host Pepperdine (3-6) on Friday, Sept. 20 at 6:00 p.m. Santa Barbara is 3-0 at home. 

UCSB on BigWest TV
Both of the matches this week will be available to stream on BigWest TV. Additionally, live stats will be available through UCSBGauchos.com. 

Ennis Earns Big West Defensive Player of the Week
Rowan Ennis was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week, it was announced on Monday afternoon, after she led the Gauchos to a 3-0 showing over the weekend to win the Thunderdome Classic. Ennis piled up 30 kills, 22 blocks and 11 digs while hitting .423 (30-8-52) en route to Thunderdome Classic MVP honors. The 6-foot-1, Virginia Beach, Va. native posted averages of 2.73 kills, 2.00 blocks and 1.00 digs per set during the tournament. Ennis opened up the classic with eight blocks and 10 kills on .375 hitting to propel the Gauchos to an impressive 3-1 victory over San Diego, who was receiving votes in the latest AVCA Poll. On Saturday, Ennis added eight more blocks in a sweep over La Salle before putting together a sensational all-around performance with 13 kills on .650 hitting (13-0-20) to go along with six blocks (two solo), five digs and two aces in a 3-1 win over Harvard

Winning Streak
UCSB has won six straight matches, currently the 17th best streak in the nation, and is off to its best start since 2004 with an 8-1 record. 

Block Party
The Gauchos rank 17th in the nation and second in the Big West with 96 total blocks. UCSB has displayed a tough defensive presence at the net thus far, led by Rowan Ennis who ranks ninth in the country with 50 total blocks. After racking up 22 over the weekend, Ennis has 46 block assists and four solo blocks. Freshman Deni Wilson is second on the team with 36.

Battle with the Bruins
UCLA is 5-3 to start the year and is coming off a 3-0 loss at the hands of Hawaii. Prior to that loss, the Bruins had won five straight matches after starting the season off with tough losses to Baylor and Nebraska. They are one of only four teams to play in only three set matches this season. UCLA is averaging 13.5 kills, 12.8 assists, 16.0 digs and 2.2 blocks per set and is led by junior outside hitter Mac May (112 kills, 4.67 k/s). Sophomore libero Kelli Barry leads the team with 96 digs (4.00 d/s) while Devon Chang (140 assists, 6.36 a/s) and Hawley Harrer (124 assists, 5.64 a/s) share the setting duties. 

Waves to Watch
Pepperdine is off to a 3-6 start to 2019,  having lost four consecutive matches, including a five-set defeat at the hands of Cal Poly. The Waves have wins against Cal Baptist, Illinois State and Fairfield. Pepperdine is led offensively by junior outside hitter Shannon Scully (126 kills, 3.32 k/s) and sophomore outside Rachel Ahrens (112 kills, 3.03 k/s). The setting duties are shared between Tayah Mahi (217 assists, 9.86 a/s) and Isabel Zelaya (191 assists, 7.35 a/s) while libero Hana Lishman leads the team with 142 digs (3.42 d/s). Alli O'Harra leads the way with 37 blocks (0.97). 

Record-Breaking Ruddins
In the second game of the season, Lindsey Ruddins registered a game-high and season-best 21 kills to move into second all-time in UCSB history in career kills. Entering the day just one kill behind Kristie Ryan (1989-92), Ruddins' 21 also propelled her past Danielle Bauer (1999-2002). Ruddins, the all-time rally scoring leader with 1,683 career kills, is chasing only Roberta Gehlke (1996-99), who is the all-time leader with 2,153. 

Dig Deep
Zoe Fleck and Torre Glasker have been sensational on the defensive end to start 2019 and lead the team with 131 and 111 digs, respectively. Fleck, a sophomore libero from Granada Hills, Calif., finished with 44 digs during the Thunderdome Classic, including 25 alone in a sweep over La Salle. Glasker added 35 over the weekend, with 17 digs and 11 kills for the double-double in a win over Harvard. 

Preseason Poll
UCSB was selected to finish third in the Big West Conference this season, as voted by the nine head coaches. Back-to-back conference champion Cal Poly was selected to three-peat with a total of 77 points, including five first-place votes, while Hawai'i was picked to finish second with 76 points, along with the remaining four first-place votes. UCSB followed with 59 points, while UC Irvine (52) and Long Beach State (46) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the poll was UC Davis with 39 points, CSUN with 27, UC Riverside with 18 and Cal State Fullerton with 11.

AVCA Academic Award Winners
The Gauchos earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the fifth consecutive year.The prestigious award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale UCSB was one of 189 Division I programs and a record 1,126 total AVCA Team Academic Award recipients this year.

Depth and Experience to Guide UCSB in 2019
Following a fourth-place finish in the Big West and a NIVC postseason appearance last season, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team is poised to climb the standings in 2019 with 12 returning letterwinners, including five starters, and a talented incoming class of seven."We are really excited for the 2019 season," said head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, who enters her seventh season at the helm of the Gauchos. "We have the most depth in the program that we've had since I've been here. We have a lot of returning experience, so that's a great combination heading into the year. Expectations are high and we are going to push a lot of teams."