LOGAN, Utah – The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team was defeated in four sets Friday afternoon by Montana State in the squad's first contest of the Utah State Tournament at the Wayne Estes Center. Set scores for the match were 25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20.
Montana State (2-2) was led by Natalie Passeck's 17 kills, while Chase Doughty chipped in 14. Though that duo contributed most of the Bearcats' offense (no other player had more than five kills), the rest of the squad performed well on defense, with five separate players reaching double-digit kills and another three adding five or more blocks.
UCSB (0-4) meanwhile had a more balanced attack with three hitters reaching the 10-kill mark, led by reigning PrepVolleyball.com Player of the Week Lindsey Ruddins' team-best 17. Sophomore outside hitter Chloe Allen put down 11 kills of her own, and sophomore middle blocker Rowan Ennis had her best attacking performance of the young season with 10 kills on .240 hitting. However, the Gauchos were outhit .181 to .116 for the match.
On defense, UCSB junior libero Emilia Petrachi led all players by a wide margin with 24 digs, one off her season high.
Behind Ruddins' best game of the night (seven kills on 15 swings) and five team blocks (three by sophomore middle/right side Charlie Robinson and two apiece from Ruddins, Ennis, and junior setter Lexi Rottman), the Gauchos were able to pull the second set and even the match at 1-1.
The pivotal series in that set came on a 3-0 UCSB run that broke a 9-9 tie and put the Gauchos in the lead for good at 12-9. Allen kicked off the run with a kill before freshman defensive specialist Kobie Jimenez, subbing into the match to make her NCAA debut, ripped an ace on her very first play. A Ruddins-Robinson double-block capped off the rally. UCSB weathered a late MSU comeback to clinch the set on another Allen kill, her fourth of the stanza.
Despite trailing by six points late, the Gauchos battled back in the third set to make it extremely close. Facing a 21-15 deficit, UCSB stormed back with an 8-2 run to tie the match at 23-23. Most of that run came behind the serving of Allen, who chipped in a pair of aces and was at the service line four consecutive points.
The Bearcats offense got into a rhythm in the fourth set, posting a solid .359 team hitting percentage. Moreso than the previous three games, setter Sydney Mathison spread the ball around in the fourth resulting in five different MSU hitters recording multiple kills.
Tomorrow UCSB plays the first of its three scheduled doubleheaders this season, taking on Pacific (2-2) at 9:00 a.m. PDT before facing the host Aggies (2-1) at 6:00 p.m. PDT. Links to live stats (and video for the Utah St. match) are available on the UCSB women's volleyball schedule page.