SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team held its end-of-season banquet earlier this month, recapping the 2018 season and handing out its annual team awards.
Deservedly receiving a lion's share of the awards was senior libero Emilia Petrachi, who was named a co-MVP alongside redshirt junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins. Petrachi also took home the team's Leadership Award and would split the Academic Award with fellow senior Annie Hasselmann.
Also earning recognition were junior outside hitter Torre Glasker (Cho Guts Award), freshman outside hitter Gigi Ruddins (Most Improved Player Award), and senior defensive specialist Lexi Rottman (Unsung Hero Award).
Petrachi and Lindsey Ruddins split MVP honors following career seasons and First Team All-Big West selections for both players, as they led the charge in a 17-12 season which ended with the program's first postseason appearance since 2013.
Ruddins was awarded her third straight team MVP award following another superb, record-breaking campaign. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native ended her year with career-highs in kills (587), attempts (1597), aces (41), digs (304), blocks (59) and points (662) and joined Roberta Gehlke as the only three-time All-American recipients in UCSB history.
Appearing in all 29 matches for the first time in her career, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter was the only player in the conference to have at least 10 kills in every match she played in, something she had never done before. Her 5.34 kills per set ranked second in the nation in 2018 and are second all-time at UCSB, trailing only herself. The 587 kills were the most during the rally scoring era (since 2001) and the third-most in program history, and she also broke her own record with five Big West Player of the Week awards this year, one more than she had in 2017.
In her fourth straight year as the team's starting libero, Petrachi cracked the All-Big West First Team for the first time in her storied career, earning her third selection overall. Petrachi – who ended her career without ever missing a match – finished with a career-high 555 digs this year, giving her a UCSB all-time record 1,977 digs in her career. That mark also stands at No. 4 all-time in the Big West. She recorded at least 20 digs in more than half of her appearances as a senior, and would also set the conference record for Defensive Player of the Week awards with eight, eventually going on to lead the Big West in digs for the third straight season.
Serving as a team captain, Petrachi's relentless, fiery play and her unwavering will to win would see her take home the Leadership Award. She also shared the Academic Award with Annie Hasselmann, after both seniors posted an outstanding 3.92 GPA for the fall quarter to bring them to identical GPAs of 3.78 for the past three quarters combined.
In her first fall campaign as a Gaucho, Torre Glasker claimed the Cho Guts Award, given to the player who always gives 100% effort and inspires her teammates. Glasker's determination to help her team in any way she can was evident from her first time she stepped on the court, as she posted double-doubles in each of her first three matches. She would finish fourth on the team in kills (2.02 K/S) and second in aces (0.30 SA/S), giving UCSB a much-needed boost on offense from the previous year. She was also huge on defense, as she finished second behind only Petrachi in digs (3.04).
Despite missing 12 of the first 13 matches of her freshman season, Gigi Ruddins would turn into one of the Gauchos' most reliable offensive weapons down the stretch of the year, making her UCSB's Most Improved Player for 2018. She had at least nine kills in each of her first three career Big West matches, all UCSB wins, and would end her rookie campaign second on the team with an average of 2.33 kills per set. That was good for No. 17 in the conference and placed her in the top-5 among Big West freshmen. In matches where the younger Ruddins sister reached double-figures in the kill department, UCSB was a perfect 6-0.
Rounding out the award recipients is Lexi Rottman, who was named the team's Unsung Hero. Rottman had another stellar year as UCSB's top service threat off the bench. She ended her senior season with 28 aces (0.27 SA/S) and was one of the reasons why UCSB would lead the conference in both aces and aces per set by a wide margin.
More than once, Rottman went on a brilliant streak of momentum-swinging serves, single-handedly breaking a game open in her team's favor. One such run occurred in the Gauchos' win over Montana on Sept. 14, when she would finish with the most aces per set (2.33 SA/S) in the Big West this season. It was both the second-highest aces per set average and the second-most total aces for a single match in UCSB's rally scoring history.