The UC Santa Barbara women’s volleyball team fell to Hawai’i 3-2 despite senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins’ 27 kills.
This loss marks the fifth game since, the Gauchos had their 13-game winning streak snapped at the hands of this very same team.
Hawai’i initially came out hot winning the first set 25-19 and holding the Gauchos to a .097 hitting percentage, but they would eventually falter.
Ruddins, who was coming off her record-setting 12th Big West Player of the Week award, ignited the engine, firing off 13 of her 27 kills in the second set and kickstarting the Gauchos’ offense.
The Gauchos were able to get a hold on the game and found themselves up 2-1 after three sets.
It was truly a tale of two teams, as the Gauchos followed up their most efficient set of the night with perhaps their most egregious. After hitting .419 in the third set, they just couldn’t keep it together as they hit .067 and committed 6 errors in the fourth to give Hawai’i the tie.
But they also gave them the momentum.
Hawai’i would go on to take the last set 17-15 and the match 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 25-18, 17-15).
Ruddins added 14 digs for the 27-kill double-double, freshman right side Tallulah Froley tied her career-high with 16 kills and freshman setter Romoni Vivao posted a 21-assist double-double. Unfortunately, these efforts were not enough to dig the Gauchos out of the hole they had dug for themselves.
Additionally, despite fine performances from sophomore setter Olivia Lovenberg, who led the Gauchos with 25 assists, and sophomore libero Zoe Fleck, who led the squad with 24 digs, the fourth-set hurdle of Norene Iosia’s 4 service aces was simply too much.
Iosia posted a 33-assist, 16-dig double-double, and her service snatched 6 points for her team amidst a 7-point run that saw Hawai’i run away with the fourth set.
Hawai’i recorded their 14th game with double-digit blocks despite getting out-blocked by the Gauchos 13-10.
Hawai’i had the upper hand in kills (67-62), assists (64-55) and service aces (6-2), but they were out-dug (86-75) by the Gauchos.
Highlights for the Rainbow Wahine include freshman Hanna Hellvig, who posted a career-high 19 kills, junior Rika Okino, who recorded a match- and career-high 25 digs, and Iosia, who posted her 14th double-double of the season while playing perhaps the most important role for Hawai’i this game.
Despite this recent loss, UCSB will be hard-struck to doubt themselves for their next match against archrival Cal Poly, considering they toppled the Mustangs just a mere week after losing to Hawai’i five games ago. But nerves will be high nonetheless as the Gauchos continue their push for hardware with the season coming to a close.
With just five games left, Cal Poly will host yet another rendition of the Blue-Green rivalry, as the Gauchos will head north for a clash of titans between two of the best the Big West has to offer.
Saturday’s match at Cal Poly will kick off at 7 p.m.