Gauchos Score Key Road Win at UC Davis

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

DAVIS, Calif. – Behind a 26-kill, 15-dig double-double from star outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball claimed its first road win of the season on Tuesday night at the Pavillion, knocking off UC Davis by a score of 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 26-24). 

The victory snapped a four-match slide for the Gauchos, who improved to 4-15 overall and 3-4 in Big West competition. The Aggies meanwhile slipped to 11-10, 3-5. 

UCSB received key contributions in the win from freshman middles Kjia Rivers and Nicole Omwanghe, who both had seven kills and hit over .400. Junior setter Annie Hasselman totaled 40 assists, added five kills, and steered the team to a solid .242 hitting percentage, UCSB's highest clip since Sept. 29. Last but not least, sophomore middle/right side Charlie Robinson led the team in both aces (three) and blocks (five), playing a huge part in Gaucho advantages in those two categories (7-3 in aces, 10-4 in blocks). 

The Aggies were led by libero Malia Bolko's match-high 27 digs, while three separate hitters reached double-digit kills. The hosts finished just behind UCSB with a .238 team hitting percentage. 

Ruddins turned in her most productive set of the night in the first to help UCSB get out on the right foot. The Laguna Niguel native produced nine kills on .529 hitting in the first, and had her best back-row performance with eight digs, over half her total for the evening. Rivers was also a big contributor in the opening game, needing just six swings to notch four kills. The Gauchos produced the decisive rally in that frame off a 17-17 tie, using a 4-1 run to go up 21-18. UCD would get as close as 23-22, but a Ruddins kill and then a Ruddins-Omwanghe block snuffed out the comeback attempt. 

Things didn't go as well for the Gauchos in the second, as they hit a match-low .037 while the Aggies hit .419, their best single-game performance. UCD went on to close the set on a 13-7 run. 

UCSB would right the ship in the final two sets however, hitting a match-high .314 and receiving multiple kills from five hitters in the third before outlasting the Aggies in the fourth to take home the victory. 

Despite trailing for the last time at 3-4, UCSB had to sweat out it in the final game, producing 16 ties. The Gauchos reeled off a 5-1 run mid-set to take a 13-9 lead, their biggest of the set, but Davis recovered to make it a one-point set down the stretch. A Ruddins kill, her seventh of the set, helped UCSB create the first match point at 24-23, but UCD held them off momentarily. A quick hit from Omwanghe gave the Gauchos their second opportunity to clinch it, and this time libero Emilia Petrachi (10 digs) ended it with a jump float serve that was mishandled by Brianna Karsseboom. 

The Gauchos return to Santa Barbara this weekend to open a three-match homestand, hosting Long Beach State on Friday night and CSUN on Saturday night. Both contests are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. starts.