The UCSB women’s volleyball team finished 3-0 after having defeated North Carolina State (25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22), Navy (25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21) and host Virginia Commonwealth (25-23, 21-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13) at the VCU Invitational this past weekend.
Lindsey Ruddins, Tallulah Froley, and Rowan Ennis each had over ten kills and led the Gauchos to a narrow victory over NC State, who has struggled since opening the season 6-1 in sets in their first two games.
A 0-3 showing against VCU as well as 1-3 losses to UCSB and Alabama means NC State now sits at 2-3 overall while posting an 8-10 record in sets.
Meanwhile, a clean sweep at VCU this weekend means UCSB is sitting at a comfortable 5-1. Ruddins has been the standout performer thus far, having posted 114 kills up to this point with at least 15 in each game. Aside from Aug. 30’s LIU matchup, Ruddins has at least 18 kills in the last five games.
Although NC State’s Kaylee Frazier led both teams with 21 digs, it was the Gauchos who took the win in overall digs at 69-67. A slight edge in kills and a much better kill efficiency proved to be the deciding factors here, not to mention that NC State also had one more error.
The Gauchos won the first two sets before NC State staved off the attack and managed to win the third 25-23. An eight-error set by the Wolfpack and a 0.294 kill percentage by the Gauchos meant it was game over.
Much has been the same for the Gauchos this year and another superior showing in hitting percentage, blocks, digs and aces meant that Navy had little to no chance of coming back.
After a season of individual success that often got in the way of complete team fluidity, the Gauchos have proven to be much improved as a whole.
While Ruddins once again showed out with 20 kills, Olivia Lovenberg posted a double-double with a team-high 22 assists and 12 digs.
Throw in 14 digs by Torre Glasker and 12 by Zoe Fleckand you don’t even need freshman Romoni Vivao’s 17-assist, seven-dig, four-service ace game to know that the Gauchos were dominant — though it certainly helped.
ESPN+ viewers were treated quite well as the UCSB-VCU matchup provided the perfect platform for Ruddins to showcase her skills. She posted a 20-kill, 17-dig double-double en route to a 3-2 Gauchos victory.
Unlike previous games where the Gauchos have won thanks to a superior hitting percentage, VCU had the upper hand with a 0.184 versus UCSB’s 0.15. An edge in digs and aces meant UCSB just had to prevent VCU from going on any big runs and they could come back.
And they did just that.
UCSB won the first set 25-23 before narrowly losing the next two 21-25. The Gauchos won the third set 25-22 before holding VCU to 13 points in the final set.
UCSB finished the match with four double-figures in digs, by Ruddins, Glasker, Fleck (who had a team-high 22) and Vivao. Don’t forget UCSB’s slight edge in blocks and the Gauchos’ stout defense gave them the win and the weekend sweep.
UCSB (5-1) returns for its home opener this Friday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. against the University of San Diego as it hosts the Thunderdome Classic.