UCSB Struggles to Keep Pace With No. 24 Cal Poly in 3-1 Loss

Lindsey Ruddins (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Lindsey Ruddins (photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Despite a commanding start to the match on Saturday, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team suffered its fourth straight loss, all coming in conference play, after dropping its Blue-Green rivalry match against No. 24 Cal Poly (17-2, 7-0 Big West) in four sets with scores of 26-28, 25-15, 25-16, 25-15.

"I thought we had a good effort and we just have to improve," Head Coach Lantagne Welch said. "We have had a lot of adversity this season but we have to take the hand we are dealt, focus on improving. We are putting the effort in and now we just want to execute."

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins was once again the star for the Gauchos (3-15, 2-4 Big West), narrowly missing her sixth double-double of the season finishing with 21 kills and 8 digs.

Ruddins registered a third of her team-high 21 kills in the first set which saw Santa Barbara battle back from an early 6-1 deficit to eventually tie the game at 14-14.

With the score tied at 22-22 in the first, the two teams kept trading points until Ruddins hit a hard spike between three Cal Poly defenders giving the home team a 27-26 lead. The Gauchos then sealed the first set victory blocking a Mustangs shot leading to the 28-26 win

In that first set, the Gauchos were strong at the net blocking shots and creating opportunities with a team-high 38 total attempts and outshooting the Mustangs with a .289 clip compared to Cal Poly's .163.

The second set began with more of the same as the two teams kept battling with Santa Barbara taking the early 7-5 lead thanks in large part to Ruddins three service aces in the set.

From that point on Cal Poly took complete control scoring 13 unanswered points in the second to take a commanding 18-7 lead. The Gauchos would score the next four points to cut the lead back to single digits but the Mustangs kept the pressure finishing the set with a 25-15 victory tying the match at one set apiece.

After the second set, it was clear momentum shifted to the Mustangs side who would finish with a .279 clip while limiting the Gauchos to a .119 kill percentage, the team's seventh-lowest total of the season.

The third set saw Cal Poly go on a 13-5 run to take a favorable 16-8 lead giving them the edge it needed to finish the set with ease getting the 25-16 win while the fourth set saw the Mustangs take the lead early and never surrender it.

With the score 15-12 in its favor, Cal Poly finished the set using a 10-3 run to earn the 25-15 set win and the 3-1 match victory.

Junior libero Emilia Petrachi led the team in digs with 14, but it was her tied for her fifth-lowest total of the season, while, sophomore middle blocker Charlie Robinson hit her fourth highest kill total of the season earning seven kills on the day.

However, the biggest difference in the match, especially after the first set, was Cal Poly's offensive firepower highlighted by its 53 assists on the night compared to UCSB's 37.

"We were hot and cold throughout the match," Welch said. "We had some really great moments, especially in that first set, but we deteriorated from there offensively and that's where we need to get better."

"We passed well enough to win this match, we served aggressively, and our blocks started out strong. We just need all these things to come together for a whole game," Welch said.

The Gauchos will look to regroup and win their first match in five games taking on UC Davis at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17.