With back-to-back wins against UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, the UCSB women’s volleyball team push their win streak to 11 straight games — improving to 13-1 on the season.
The team’s two-game road stint started at UC Irvine on Thursday. The Anteaters kept the first set close at 21-19, before the ‘Chos overwhelmed the Irvine team with 4 straight points. After this point UC Irvine took themselves out of the game as their errors compounded one after the other leading to an almost effortless 25-11 second set win for the ‘Chos. While the Anteaters got less and less efficient as the match progressed from the first to the second set, the ‘Chos did the opposite, winning the hitting percentage battle .304 to .051 on the night.
In a league with as high parity as the Big West, it’s very difficult and next to impossible to win any game hitting as poorly as .051, especially against a UCSB team who has cemented their place as one of the premier blocking teams and the most efficient hitting offenses in the country.
After getting down 2-1 the Anteaters made a valiant comeback and had the game tied at 20-20 in the third set. Ultimately they were not able to convert and allowed the ‘Chos to end the set with a 5-1 run to complete the sweep. In the third set in particular, senior Lindsey Ruddins made her presence felt with a solo block, a kill and a joint block with Rowan Ennis to end the game.
This game was also highlighted by a balanced setting effort by both Olivia Lovenberg and Romoni Vivao, who had 20 and 17 assists respectively. With nearly all cogs off the offense working at maximum capacity and Irvine making as many errors as they did, the Gauchos pushed their win streak to 11 straight games and aimed to carry this momentum over to their game against Cal State Fullerton the next day.
The ‘Chos ran away with the game against Fullerton from the start. The closest the game was was 3-3 in the first set, but after a quick 5-0 run the ‘Chos went on to close out the first set 25-15. Fullerton was unable to hit efficiently, similar to Irvine, and also was unable to keep up with the ‘Chos offense. Fullerton outside Julia Crawford logged 11 kills but with the all-around offensive output of the ‘Chos, her 11 kills were not enough to offset the Gaucho efficiency. The ‘Chos hit .321 to Fullerton’s .032 and were thus blown out every set (the lowest point differential being 8).
A recurring theme for this Gaucho team is the extremely efficient hitting. With such a star-studded offense, opponents can seldom hope to negatively influence the UCSB hitting squad — and are thus required to try to match the offensive output themselves to have a shot at winning. It’s hard enough to match the scoring output of a star player like Ruddins, but factoring in the bench depth and next to flawless setting — it’s almost impossible.
As long as both Lovenberg and Vivao keep playing as well as they have, the ‘Chos are head and shoulders above almost any opposition. Tallying 21 and 19 assists respectively, this setting duo has done a phenomenal job at running the offense and continue to excel.
The ‘Chos will definitely be coming back Friday, Oct. 4, with a lot of confidence for their game against UC Davis and look to extend their win streak even further to 12 straight.