Resilient Gauchos Rally for Reverse Sweep Over Pepperdine

Zoe Fleck (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Zoe Fleck (Photo by Jeff Liang)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Trailing two sets to none with their backs against the wall, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team rallied from behind for a thrilling 3-2 (17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-12) victory over Pepperdine in the final non-conference match of the season on Friday night in the Thunderdome.

The win marked the eighth straight for UCSB (10-1), who also won its third five-set match of the season, all in come-from-behind fashion. Pepperdine, meanwhile, falls to 4-7 and drops its fifth five-set match of the year.

Lindsey Ruddins put together her sixth double-double of the season with a game-high 19 kills to go along with 14 digs while freshman Tallulah Froley was impressive with 15 kills on .310 hitting to lead the Gauchos. 

As a team, Santa Barbara got off to a slow start, hitting just .053 in the first set and .077 in the second as Pepperdine jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind 25-17 and 25-20 set victories.

UCSB would regroup and hit .326 over the final three sets as they returned to form and mounted a comeback.

Looking to avoid a sweep, trailing 18-17 late in the third set, the Gauchos turned to Froley who sparked a 5-1 run to change the tide of the match. After a Waves service error, Froley teamed up with Deni Wilson for a block and followed it up with two kills in three plays to give UCSB a 22-19 lead. Pepperdine hung around to make it interesting, but with the score 24-23, Torre Glasker sent down the final point for a kill to keep the Gauchos alive.

UCSB hit an astounding .406 (18-5-32) in the fourth set as Ruddins took over with eight of her game-high 19 kills in the frame. Tasia Farmer also added four kills in the set as the Gauchos never looked back and forced a fifth set with a 25-20 win.

In the fifth and decisive set, both teams traded point for point until a critical 4-0 run handed all of the momentum and ultimately the match to the Gauchos. With UCSB trailing 8-7, Wilson landed a kill to tie the match at 8-8. After an attacking error put the Gauchos ahead one, Froley put together back-to-back kills to make it 11-8 and give UCSB some breathing room. Pepperdine would hang in there and stayed close at 13-12, but a service error followed by a block from Glasker and Wilson would seal the match and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Farmer joined Ruddins and Froley in double-figures with 11 kills while Wilson finished with six and a game-high eight blocks. The block proved to be a huge advantage for UCSB, who finished with 23 blocks to Pepperdine's 10. Zoe Fleck paced the team with 21 digs and Glasker added 12 to go with her six kills and three blocks. Olivia Lovenberg posted a team-high 27 digs and Romoni Vivao added 24. Rowan Ennis finished with five kills, three blocks and three digs.

UCSB will continue its home stand this Tuesday, Sept. 24 as it hosts CSUN to begin Big West play at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.