SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball dropped a four-set decision to UC Davis on Saturday night at the Thunderdome in the team's final home contest of the season. Set scores were 25-21, 15-25, 26-24, 25-18.
Prior to the contest, UCSB's two senior members of the team – defensive specialist Sydney Bast and outside hitter Chanel Hoffman – were honored and saluted by the Gaucho faithful. Bast, a frequent choice off the bench to be a serving or passing specialist, had seven digs and an ace. Hoffman, a two-time All-Big West selection, has been held off the court this season due to injury.
"Chanel and Syd are wonderful people and great leaders on this team," said UCSB head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. "It has been an absolute honor and a pleasure to work with them over the last four years."
Sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins paced all players on Saturday with 27 kills, the 14th consecutive match she has led UCSB (7-18, 6-7 Big West) in that category. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native raised her NCAA-leading kills average to 5.78 with her performance. Junior libero Emilia Petrachi was a standout in the back row for the Gauchos, notching a match-high 18 digs. Three separate Gauchos had at least five blocks: Charlie Robinson (match-high seven), Kjia Rivers (six), and Ruddins (five).
UCSB was narrowly outhit in the contest, .271 to .250. However, the Gauchos outproduced the Aggies in practically every other stat, out-blocking them 13-8.5, out-digging them 48-44, and out-acing them 10-7.
Mahalia White was the top offensive producer for UCD (16-12, 8-7 Big West), logging 22 kills on .385 hitting.
"We were a little flat to start the match, but we made some adjustments after the first game and I thought we played a lot better after that," said Lantagne Welch. "Ultimately, they executed their opportunities at the end of the third set and we didn't, and that was the difference in the match."
Three early blocks, including a pair from Rivers, gave UCSB an early 5-2 lead. However, the Aggies charged back to tie it before taking the lead for good on a kill from White that made it 10-9 in the visitors' favor. White went on to pace all players with six kills in the set.
UCSB flipped the script in the next game, overcoming a 6-2 deficit to even up the match. Strong team serving – the Gauchos out-aced the Aggies 4-1 and forced them into seven attack errors in the frame – and a solid offensive showing from Ruddins proved decisive in the win, as she logged seven kills to pace a UCSB offense which hit .290. She was also a factor at the net, recording blocks solo on back-to-back plays for the second time this season. Lexi Rottman, who had a pair of aces, and Kobie Jimenez, who was at the line for a 4-0 run her first time up and then a 3-0 run her second time, led the Gauchos' service efforts.
The third was the tightest set of the night and possibly of the season for the Gauchos, as there were 19 ties, 10 lead changes, and neither team was able to lead by more than two at any occasion. Ruddins' ninth kill of the set gave UCSB the first set point at 24-23, but UCD stormed back to convert three straight points and claim a 2-1 lead. Chloe Allen was strong for UCSB in the third with four kills on five attempts.
With eight kills on nine swings, White helped UCD to its best offensive set in the fourth, as the visitors hit a match-high .405. Ruddins responded with four kills of her own, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 4-0 run by Davis to open the frame.
Next week, UCSB opens up a season-ending three-match road trip next weekend with contests against Cal State Fullerton on Friday night and UC Riverside on Saturday night. The Gauchos swept both those teams earlier this season in matchups at the Thunderdome.