OXFORD, Ohio – UC Santa Barbara went undefeated on the final day of the Miami Invitational Saturday, defeating the host RedHawks, 3-2, before downing Saint Louis in three sets for its first sweep of 2018. Although three teams finished with a 2-1 record, UCSB was a +19 in point differential, slightly edging Miami (+18) and Cincinnati (+16) on the tiebreaker and making the Gauchos tournament champs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, UCSB (2-1) was powered offensively by redshirt junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, who took home tournament MVP honors after averaging 4.62 kills per set over the season's first three matches. That included a stellar 27-kill performance in the win over Miami (2-1), tying for No. 11 all-time in the Gaucho rally scoring charts.
Senior libero Emilia Petrachi and junior outside hitter Rowan Ennis also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team. Petrachi averaged 4.23 digs per set, surpassing the 20-scoop mark for the first time this year with 23 in the win over the RedHawks. Ennis posted a consistent 2.15 kill average, hitting at an efficient .436 clip and ranking second on the team in both block assists (5) and total blocks (6).
TRIO OF DOUBLE-DOUBLES LEAD TO GAUCHOS' FIRST WIN
The first match of the day pitted UCSB against Miami in the Gauchos' second straight five-set match to begin the year. This time, Santa Barbara would be the first to gain the upper hand in the decisive fifth, never trailing on the way to a 15-12 victory. The first four sets went 25-22, 22-25, 18-25, 25-21.
Six of Ruddins' match-high 27 kills came in the final game, including the clinching point. It was the 12th 20-kill outing in her last 13 matches, as she reached the 27-kill mark for the seventh time in her career. She also added 13 digs, three aces and a solo block in the first of two double-doubles on the day.
Freshman setter Olivia Lovenberg set an early-season high with 51 assists to go along with 11 digs. Outside hitters Torre Glasker and Rowan Ennis chipped in with 11 kills apiece, the former also notching a double-double of her own with 11 digs.
UCSB hit over .250 in four of five sets, something Miami failed to do once in the match. That didn't prevent the RedHawks from answering the Gauchos' opening 25-22 win, as the hosts claimed the following two sets. With the fourth set tied at 10-10, the combined hitting of Ruddins and Glasker would spark a 6-1 Gaucho run, giving the separation they needed to take a 25-21 win, extending the match.
Petrachi recorded a match-high 23 digs, her highest total of the weekend, and averaged 4.23 scoops per set overall. Ennis finished with 11 kills on a .476 hitting percentage and a block assist.
UCSB EARNS FIRST SWEEP OF THE SEASON AGAINST SAINT LOUIS
The Gauchos closed the day out by topping Saint Louis (0-3) in straight sets, 25-20, 25-16, 25-19. Glasker had perhaps her best outing of the weekend, ending up with match-highs of 13 kills and 15 digs. Ruddins also notched her second straight double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs, while Petrachi equaled both players with 15 scoops of her own.
Glasker led the charge in the opening set, pacing UCSB with four kills. With the game tied at 16-16, UCSB would capitalize on numerous Billiken errors, closing it out on a 9-4 run. Glasker had a pair of kills during the run, the second of which gave UCSB the 25-20 win and a 1-0 lead for the second straight match.
The Gauchos provided some of their best play in the second set, winning it 25-16 and hitting at a .294 clip as a team. The Billikens meanwhile were stifled for much of the day, finishing game two with a .000 hitting percentage. They ended the match hitting at -.010 collectively.
UCSB jumped out to a 10-3 lead in game three and would lead by as many as nine points for the second set in a row. The Gauchos went on to clinch the final game, 25-19, on a Billiken service error.
Lovenberg finished with 35 assists to lead all players. Ennis provided seven kills and two block assists on an efficient .538 hitting percentage.
The Gauchos will hit the road again next weekend for three matches at the Denver Classic in Colorado, beginning with Denver on Friday, Aug. 31 at 5:00 p.m. The following weekend, UCSB will open its 2018 home schedule as the host of the Thunderdome Classic (Sept. 7-8).