Gauchos Edged by No. 15 Florida State in Five-Set Heartbreaker

Lindsey Ruddins (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Lindsey Ruddins (photo by Eric Isaacs)

WACO, Texas – Despite career nights from outside hitters Lindsey Ruddins and Chloe Allen, UC Santa Barbara came up just short in a five-set loss to No. 15 Florida State on Saturday afternoon at the Baylor Tournament, with set scores of 25-22, 25-27, 26-28, 25-18, 15-13.

Ruddins, a redshirt sophomore, set a new UCSB (0-2) rally-scoring era record for kills in a single match with 36. That total ranks second all-time in Gaucho lore behind Roberta Gehlke's program-record 38 kills, set on Sept. 30, 1999 against Long Beach State. Allen set a career record of her own in the contest with 24 kills, topping her previous career high of 19. With 18 and 15 digs, respectively, both UCSB standout hitters recorded double-doubles in the match. 

Junior setter Lexi Rottman had a career night of her own and joined the double-double club with a personal-best 60 assists and 10 digs. 

Florida State (3-0) had four separate players record double-digit kills in the contest, led by Natasha Calkins' 17. 

Calkins, and a Seminole front row that produced four blocks, was the catalyst for FSU in the do-or-die fifth. Thanks to six kills from Ruddins and four from Allen, UCSB kept close resulting in five ties in the decisive set. Off a 13-13 tie, Calkins was able to produce match point with her final kill of the frame, and then FSU clinched the contest with a UCSB attack error.

The Gauchos led the match 2-1 after three sets, pulling out sets two and three in extra points. 

UCSB hit a match-high .288 in the second, with Ruddins and Allen chipping in eight kills apiece. Behind a 5-0 run with Rottman at the service line, featuring two of freshman middle Kjia Rivers' eight kills on the night, the Gauchos created a solid cushion at 14-9, but the Seminoles charged back to tie the set at 16-16. The two teams went back and forth the rest of the way, with UCSB creating its second set point off a FSU error. Ruddins cashed in the opportunity with a kill to tie the match at 1-1 at the time. 

The middle game was the tightest of the night, with the teams battling to the tune of 18 ties and four lead changes. Ruddins was once again UCSB's top producer in the frame, posting a team-high eight kills. Off a 24-24 tie, Allen created set points for the Gauchos with kills that made it 25-24 and 26-25, but it was ultimately a pair of Florida State miscues, one off the serve and one on the attack, that clinched the set for UCSB. 

The Gauchos' lead was short-lived unfortunately, as FSU responded with its best set of the night in the fourth to even it up. It was relatively close at 16-17 until the Seminoles ripped off a 6-0 run behind Bozena Culo's serving to take a commanding 23-16 lead. 

UCSB wraps up play in the Baylor Tournament tomorrow afternoon with a 12:00 p.m showdown with the host Bears. Live stats and video (subscription required) are both available on UCSBGauchos.com.