Gauchos Come Back to Defeat UC Davis 3-2 on the Road

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

As has been the case for a majority of the season, UCSB's (15-9, 6-5) freshmen led the way on Thursday night as the Gauchos rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat UC Davis (12-12, 5-6) on the road. It was a career night for Chloe Allen, who finished with both a match and career-high 19 kills on a .394 hitting percentage.

At 6-5 in the Big West, UCSB now has the fourth best record in league play. The Gauchos had been 0-4 in conference matches when falling behind 0-2 prior to Thursday.

Lindsey Ruddins (16) and Elizabeth Sheffield (14) finished with the second and third most kills on the night, respectively, with the former also picking up 10 digs to notch her fourth double-double in her last six matches. Sheffield's 14 kills were a career-high. Hannah Juley was the only other Gaucho to record a double-double, as she finished with 11 digs and a match-high 40 assists.

Things weren't looking great for UCSB early on, which managed a meager .029 hitting percentage in the first set, its worst of the night. The Aggies meanwhile came out hot, hitting at their most efficient rate with a .400 clip out of the gates. Capitalizing on numerous Gaucho errors, Davis would dominate the first set, winning 25-15.

UCSB would show some resilience early in the second set, taking an 8-6 lead after a kill by Ruddins. Davis answered back quickly though, going on a 6-1 run to take control of the game. Later, an Emily Allen kill gave the Aggies a 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead heading into the third set.

The Gauchos finally began to take control midway through the third game. Trailing 8-9, a block by Sheffield and Annie Hasselmann started an 8-0 Gaucho run, their longest of the night. Sheffield would go on to have her best set of the night, racking up seven total points and six kills, the last of which sealed a 25-20 win for the Gauchos. The senior finished with four blocks, tied with Phoebe Grunt for the team-lead, while her .481 hitting percentage was tops on the team.

In the fourth set, it was Ruddins who stole the show, as she would go on to record seven kills and an ace in a tightly contested fourth set. After one of those seven kills put UCSB up 12-7, the Aggies answered back with a 5-0 run to tie it at 12-12. Both teams would trade points until, tied 22-22, the Gauchos would go on a 3-1 run to close out the set, relying on Allen to put away their final two points.

After a pair of errors, UCSB began the fifth and final set down 2-0. Although the team that scored first had won each of the first four sets, the Gauchos answered back quickly to make sure that didn't happen, going on a 6-1 run to take a 6-3 lead. After the teams traded points over the next few plays, Ruddins picked up her 16th and final kill, sparking a 5-0 Gaucho run that gave them a 12-5 lead. With UCSB's first match point of the night at 14-6, Juley put the game to bed with her only kill of the night, capping off the Gaucho comeback.

Santa Barbara outhit the Aggies .252-.200 on the night and saved its best offense for when it mattered most, hitting .421 and .538 as a team in the final two sets.

Four Gauchos reached double-digit digs on the night, with Emilia Petrachi leading the way with 13. Lexi Rottman had 10 digs, marking the third time she's reached double-digit numbers this season.

Allen also tallied another career-high with six digs. Prior to Thursday night's match, she had never recorded more than five kills, a mark she had reached just twice before. After impressing in the Gauchos' last outing against Cal Poly with five kills on just nine attempts, Allen found herself on the court for the most time this season against Davis, paving the way for her career night.

UCSB will be back in action this Saturday when it travels to UC Irvine. The match will be aired on ESPN3 at 7 p.m.