UCSB Upsets No. 25 Colorado State in Sweeping Fashion

Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Lindsey Ruddins (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gauchos now have a hat trick's worth of sweeps in the Thunderdome Classic after upsetting No. 25 Colorado State in straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) on Saturday. And yet again, the win came off the heels of two more outstanding performances from Chanel Hoffman and Lindsey Ruddins who were the top-two attacking leaders of the match with 12 kills and 16 kills, respectively.

"Me and Chanel have a great connection on and off the court," Ruddins said. "And we always help each other out during the games and you definitely saw that today." 

The Gauchos never shied away from putting Hoffman and Ruddins two to work, as together they combined for 67 attempts, more than half of UCSB's total swings.

"Today we were more obvious who we were going to," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said in reference to Hoffman and Ruddins. "It wasn't always pretty, but we fought through some stuff and those two were big time for us. They were getting everything and the kitchen sink sent at them and they were still able to deliver for us."

That was never more evident than in the third game when the Gauchos closed out the sweep in the third set after withstanding a late CSU rally. With UCSB on top 21-19 and the Rams firing off two-straight points, Ruddins put their rally to an end with a thundering kill down the heart of the court. That play put the momentum back in the Gauchos' hands and they never looked back, as Ruddins and Hoffman ended the match themselves with back-to-back kills. 

"I feel really good about how we just kept fighting," Welch said. "It was a really hard fought victory and we had to stay patient and calm to find our opportunities, and I thought we did a very mature job of that for being such a young group."

Not to be outdone by its offensive leaders, the Gaucho also impressed in stifling Colorado State's offense to just a .162 clip. Emilia Petrachi found herself in a familiar place in leading UCSB with 13 digs, while Hannah Juley was right behind her with 11. Adding to their defensive stats, the Gauchos were brutes at the net in out-blocking the Rams 11 to 7.5. Starting middles Phoebe Grunt and Elizabeth Sheffield paced the team with four blocks each.

After taking the first set 25-22, the Gaucho defense really stepped up in the second to hold the Rams to a .150 clip, while the offense itself struggled with its .139 average. 

"I think our mentality is always to keep fighting," Ruddins said. "I never felt at any point like we were down because we just know that we can comeback from anything."

And while Ruddins led the Gauchos in that set with five kills, UCSB picked up key plays in the middle to close out the narrow victory with Grunt and Sheffield both delivering kills for the 24th point and 25th point, respectively. 

With the upset, UCSB and Baylor - who defeated the Rams earlier in the day through five sets - became the first unranked teams to beat a nationally ranked Colorado State since New Mexico back on Nov. 11, 2010.

The Gauchos will look to run the table in their home tournament and stretch its winning streak to six matches tomorrow at 2 p.m. when they host Pitt in the final match of the Thunderdome Classic. Tickets will be available at the event and can also be purchased online.