BOULDER, Colo. – On the final day of the Buffs Invitational, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team came away with a thrilling, five-set come-from-behind victory over Wyoming, 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 26-28, 25-16, 15-11) before falling to host Colorado 3-1 (25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21) on Saturday night.
UCSB 3, Wyoming 2 (25-21, 20-25, 26-28, 25-16, 15-11)
In the first match of the day, the Gauchos rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to defeat Wyoming and open the season with back-to-back wins. After pouring in a game-high and season-best 21 kills, senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins moved into second all-time in UCSB history in career kills. Entering the day just one kill behind Kristie Ryan (1989-92), Ruddins' 21 gave her 1,567 for her career, also leap-frogging Danielle Bauer (1999-2002). Ruddins, who totaled 587 kills last season, is chasing only Roberta Gehlke (1996-99), who is the all-time leader with 2,153.
Neither team recorded an efficient hitting percentage, with the Gauchos edging the Cowgirls .130 (64-38-200) to .120 (50-28-184) for the match. UCSB recorded 92 digs to 83 for Wyoming while the Gauchos also out-blocked its opponent 23-15.
Zoe Fleck and Torre Glasker were defensive forces throughout the match, recording 28 and 21 digs, respectively, while Ruddins added 16 for the double-double. Deni Wilson followed up her strong freshman debut with another solid 11-kill, four-block performance while Rowan Ennis led the team with eight blocks to go along with eight kills.
After splitting the first two sets, the Gauchos dropped a heartbreaking third set, 28-26, after staving off a set point, only to have two set points of their own denied. Wyoming took advantage of a pair of attacking errors to steal the set and take a 2-1 lead.
Santa Barbara regrouped and came out hot in the fourth set after a trio of kills from Ruddins sparked a quick 7-3 lead. UCSB maintained its lead throughout to force a deciding fifth set and went back-and-forth until leading 10-9 down the stretch. A Wilson kill followed by a Glasker service ace pushed the lead to three, 12-9, before another Wilson kill, a kill by Ruddins and a Rivers and Ennis block sealed the game.
Colorado 3, UCSB 1 (25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21)
In the night cap on Saturday evening, the Gauchos went up against host Colorado, who received votes in the latest AVCA Top-25 Poll, and pushed the Buffaloes late but ultimately fell 3-1.
Ruddins led the way once again on the offensive end with 19 kills while Ennis, Froley, Wilson and Tasia Farmer tallied seven apiece. Vivao turned in a 17-assist, 11-dig double-double while Lovenberg dished out 22 assists to lead the team. At the net, Ennis sent down seven blocks while Glasker added four.
Colorado outhit the Gauchos .227 (50-21-128) to .144 (51-30-146) and finished with 58 digs to UCSB's 48 while the Gauchos edged the Buffaloes 21-20 in total blocks.
Santa Barbara was within two, 15-13, in the first set before a 10-3 Colorado run gave the opening frame to the Buffs, 25-16.
After dropping the second set 25-19, the Gauchos would not go down without a fight and battled back to win the third 25-22. A kill from Ennis gave UCSB a 22-16 lead late before Colorado would mount a 5-0 run to make it a 22-21 game. After a UCSB timeout, Wilson and Glasker teamed up for a block to give UCSB a bit of separation on the scoreboard, and Lovenberg delivered a clutch service ace to give the Gauchos set point. Colorado snagged the next point, but Lovenberg would set up Wilson for the set-winning kill on the very next play.
UCSB carried its momentum over into the fourth set, leading for much of the frame and as late as 20-17, but Colorado, led by Justine Spann (21 kills), would go on an 8-1 run down the stretch to take the match.
The Gauchos (2-1) are back in action next Friday, Sept. 6 against NC State at 11:30 a.m. PT to open the VCU Invitational.