Gauchos Set for Blue-Green Rivalry Match at No. 23 Cal Poly

Gauchos Set for Blue-Green Rivalry Match at No. 23 Cal Poly

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Big West TV

• The Schedule 
Friday, November 3, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 23 Cal Poly (21-2, 11-0 Big West)
at the Robert A. Mott Athletics Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Stream: Big West TV
All-time record vs. Mustangs: 49-29
Record in Lantagne Welch era: 5-4
Streak vs. CP: Lost 1
2016: UCSB went 1-1 against Cal Poly
Last meeting: L, 3-1 (10/14/17 @ UCSB)

• Up Next
This week, UC Santa Barbara travels up the 101-North to take on Blue-Green rival Cal Poly in a Friday night contest at the Mott Center, with first serve scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The match is the lone road contest in a stretch that sees UCSB play five of six at home, with the Gauchos owning a 2-1 record on the homestand so far. UCSB hosts its final two home matches of the season next Friday and Saturday against UC Irvine and UC Davis, respectively. 

• Gauchos on the Air
UCSB's single match this week, and all league matches this season, will be streamed live through Big West TV. In addition, the Gauchos are set to make a third appearance on ESPN3 for Nov. 18's contest at UC Riverside. Links to all broadcasts can be found on the women's volleyball schedule page on UCSBGauchos.com.

• The Week in Review
In their lone matchup last week, the Gauchos dropped a four-set decision to Hawai'i, snapping a three-match winning streak in the process. UCSB recorded a season-high 14 aces in the victory, but UH was able to break through on the strength of a 21-kill, 17-dig double-double from McKenna Granato and a stymying 24 digs from libero Savanah Kahakai, which helped limit UCSB to .194 hitting. Lindsey Ruddins (23 kills, .211 hitting) and Chloe Allen (16 kills, .184 hitting) paced the Gaucho offense. UCSB hit .323 and uncorked five aces in the third to send the match to the fourth set, but the Rainbow Wahine stormed out to a 7-0 lead in that frame and held the Gauchos at bay to clinch the match.

• Ruddins Grabbing the Spotlight
The reigning Big West Freshman of the Year, Lindsey Ruddins is making the case in 2017 to be one of the top offensive players in the entire country. Entering the week, she ranks second in the nation with 5.63 kills per set, just 0.12 behind Arkansas' Pilar Victoria (5.75). A vital piece of the Gaucho offense, she leads the NCAA with 14.66 swings per set. Her consistent production has been punctuated by dominant offensive performances throughout the season. Just last week, she was named the AVCA National Player of the Week and Big West Player of the Week (for the second time this season) after leading the Gauchos to a 3-0 week with victories over UC Davis, Long Beach State, and CSUN. Against that league trio, she had 20 or more kills in each match including 27 against LBSU (a season-high against a Big West opponent), recorded a pair of double-doubles, and hit a robust .300 for the week. Her nod from the AVCA made her the first Gaucho since 2009 to earn National Player of the Week honors and just the sixth ever in program history. After putting down 23 kills against Hawai'i last week, the Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has now recorded 20+ kills in five straight contests and 12 times overall. She has led the Gauchos in kills for 11 straight matches and 17 times out of her 18 appearances this season. Earlier this year, she set a UCSB rally scoring era record with 36 kills against No. 15 Florida State, narrowly missing out on the program's all-time mark (38) set by Roberta Gehlke in 1999. Those 36 kills are also the most by any NCAA player in a single match this season. Last but not least, UCSB is hitting over 100 points higher with her in the lineup (.198) than without (.096).

• Annie Hassle-ing the Opposition
In her third season at UCSB, Annie Hasselmann is affecting the game in other ways besides her solid setting (10.11 assists per set in Big West play, fourth among league players), as the San Diego native has torched opponents from the service line to the tune of a conference-leading 0.40 aces per set average. That includes a career-high six aces last Saturday against UH, which is tied for the most single-match aces by a Big West player in 2017. Hasselmann has now recorded an ace in nine straight matches, the longest such streak by a Gaucho in the entire Lantagne Welch era (since 2013). A factor in all facets of the game, she ranks second among Big West setters in both kills (0.89 per set) and blocking (0.63 per set, just behind UH's Norene Iosia 's league-leading 0.64).

• Omwanghe Emerging
Despite being a true freshman, middle blocker Nicole Omwanghe has more than held her own for the Gauchos this season, posting 115 kills on .247 hitting and 0.97 blocks per set. She has upped her game in conference play with a .271 hitting percentage and 1.12 blocks per game, a figure which ranks second in the entire league. While her .271 clip leaves her just outside the top-10 (Ruddins is 10th in the league with a .275 hitting percentage in league play), Omwanghe has for most of the season been one of just two players in the league to rank in the top-10 in both hitting percentage and blocking. The Claremont, Calif. native has been a Big West Freshman of the Week selection twice this season (Sept. 25 and Oct. 23). 

• Holding Them Down
Thanks in part to improved serving since the start of conference play, UCSB has limited its opponents to a .205 hitting percentage in Big West action, a figure which ranks third in the league. The .200 mark seems to be the magic number for UCSB; the Gauchos are 5-1 when holding opponents under .200 and just 1-15 when the opposition hits over that mark. 

• All-Around Game
UCSB has played some of its best volleyball during its Big West slate, leading to top-three ranks among all league teams in serving (1.89 aces per game, league-high), digs (15.51 per game, second), and blocking (2.13, third). The Gauchos were the only team able to boast being top-three in each of those categories until Hawaii joined them this week. 

• Petrachi Anchoring the Back Line
One of the most experienced players on the team, junior libero Emilia Petrachi has been a rock for UCSB in the back row. The Modena, Italy native is second in the league with a 4.78 digs per set average, up from her career average of 4.67. Earlier in league play, Petrachi had 28 digs in just three sets against Cal State Fullerton, which the highest of any Big West player in a three-set match this season, a personal career-high for a three-setter, and just two off her overall career high of 30 (Aug. 29, 2015 vs. Pepperdine), which took her four sets to amass.

• Lantagne Welch Earns Career Win Number 300
UCSB's 3-0 victory over UC Riverside on Sept. 22 gave head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch the 300th win of her esteemed career. In her 17th season overall as a head coach (12 years at Miami), she is the winningest active coach in the Big West (304 career wins).