RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In a match that featured a low hitting performance from UCSB and a career outing from a Highlander, the Gauchos (11-8, 2-4) opened their two-game road trip with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-14, 25-27, 25-21) loss at UC Riverside (6-11, 1-4).
UCSB struggled on offense with a combined .138 clip, as the Highlanders had the floor well covered with 76 total digs with four players reaching double figures. The Gauchos were led by Lindsey Ruddins with 13 kills, while Rowan Ennis finished behind her with 12.
Pacing the entire match was UCR's Mickayla Sherman who set a career-high with 26 kills after swinging at a .400 clip. That kill total also matches the season-high of any Highlander this season.
While Riverside may have out-dug UCSB as a team, Emilia Petrachi ended the night as the match leader with 20 scoops. It was the sophomore's fourth 20-plus dig performance of the season and the second in conference play.
At the net, UCR also had the edge with 11 total blocks to the Gauchos' eight with Meg Graham having a hand on nine of those. On UCSB's side, Ennis paced the roster with three block assists, which helped her tie Ruddins with a team-high 13.5 points.
The teams opened the match with a tight battle in the first, ending in a 25-23 score. UCSB played from behind for most of the set and eventually faced a 21-18 UCR lead until the team pulled off its largest run of the game with a 5-2 stretch, knotting the score at 23-23. Ruddins delivered two kills in that span, while Sheffield added one of her own. The run put pressure on the Highlanders, but following a timeout, UCR was able to bounce back and record back-to-back kills to end the set at 25-23.
The Highlanders carried that strong finish to the second set, as they outhit the Gauchos .435 to .034, leading to a 25-14 win and a 2-0 match lead at the halftime break.
To open the third set, UCSB had a hot start and held a four-point edge at 15-11 and were at that point outhitting the Highlanders by a large margin of .333 to .067. But UCR would make things interesting after a 4-0 run to tie the score, which predicated the neck-and-neck battle the teams found themselves in for the rest of the set.
Later, the set would reach its fever pitch after, UCR put together a 4-1 run to take a 24-23 lead, which had the Highlander faithful anticipating the sweep.
But the Gauchos were not done yet.
Ruddins came through with a hard kill to keep the Gauchos alive, forcing extra points. Though the Highlanders had another shot at match point with a 25-24 lead, Ennis spoiled their opportunity with a clutch kill that sparked the game-clinching 3-0 run. To seal the win, Ruddins connected on her sixth kill of the set then Annie Hasselmann came through with her second ace of the match.
In the fourth set, UC Riverside got to work early and scored the first five points and kept UCSB playing catch up the rest of the way. The Gauchos would tie the score at 13-13 following a 5-0 run, highlighted by a pair of Chanel Hoffman kills, but the Highlanders responded with three straight points themselves. UCSB would position itself back within two points on a few more occasions, but the deficit was too much and UCR took the game 25-21.
The Gauchos will continue its road trip at Cal State Fullerton tomorrow night at Titan Gym starting at 7 p.m. The match will feature a video stream, audio broadcast, and live stats.