UCSB to Play NC State, Navy and VCU at VCU Invitational this Weekend

Olivia Lovenberg (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Olivia Lovenberg (Photo by Jeff Liang)

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The Schedule 
Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara vs. NC State
at Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.
All-time record vs. the Wolfpack: First Meeting
Live Stats: StatBroadcast

Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara vs. Navy
at Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.
All-time record vs. the Midshipmen: First Meeting
Live Stats: StatBroadcast

Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara at VCU
at Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.
All-time record vs. Rams: 0-1
Streak vs. VCU: Lost 1
Last meeting: L, 3-1 (8/31/14)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Video: ESPN+

VCU Invitational Tournament Central

Last Week in Review
The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team opened the season with a 2-1 start at the Buffs Invitational hosted by Colorado in Boulder. The Gauchos started the year strong with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-20) sweep over LIU Brooklyn, led by 15 kills from Lindsey Ruddins and a solid .341 hitting percentage as a team. UCSB followed up that performance with a thrilling, come-from-behind five-set victory over Wyoming 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 26-28, 25-16, 15-11) fueled by a game-high 21 kills from Ruddins and 28 digs from sophomore Zoe Fleck. In the final match of the weekend, the Gauchos fell 3-1 (25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21) to host Colorado despite a late push to nearly force a fifth set. Ruddins once again led the team with 19 kills while freshman Romoni Vivao produced a 17-assist, 11-dig double-double. Ruddins and junior middle blocker Rowan Ennis were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

The Week Ahead
The Gauchos hit the road for the second straight weekend, this time traveling to Richmond, Va. to play in the VCU Invitational hosted by VCU. There will be a pair of firsts this weekend as UCSB will take on NC State and Navy for the first time in program history while having just its second meeting all-time with VCU. Santa Barbara opens play on Friday, Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. PT before taking on both Navy (8:00 a.m. PT) and VCU (3:00 p.m. PT) on Saturday, Sept. 7.

UCSB on ESPN+
The VCU Invitational finale between UC Santa Barbara and host VCU will air on ESPN+ this Saturday, Sept. 6 at 3:00 p.m. PT. Live stats will be available for all three matches and can be found on UCSBGauchos.com. 

Scouting the Competition
The Gauchos first opponent, NC State, is off to a 2-0 start after sweeping Austin Peay and defeating Kansas State 3-1 in a pair of home matches to start 2019. Junior opposite Melissa Evans totaled a team-high 33 kills between the two matches, putting together performances of 19 and 14 kills, respectively, to lead the Wolfpack. Navy, meanwhile, is 2-1 following the Pentagon Tournament, sweeping both Air Force and UConn while falling to Gonzaga, 3-1. Junior outside hitters Maddi Sgattoni (42 kills) and Amanda Montag (33 kills) lead the Midshipmen on offense. Host VCU is 2-2 to start the year after sweeps over Lehigh and High Point and losses to Texas Tech and Ohio State. The Rams are led by senior outside hitter Vicky Giommarini's 34 kills. 

Ruddins Climbing the Record Book
In the second game of last week's Buffs Invitational against Wyoming, star senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins registered a game-high and season-best 21 kills to move 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 leapfrogging 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. With 19 more kills at Colorado on Sunday, Ruddins now has 55 through the first three matches, tied for the Big West lead, and has 1,586 for her career. 

Dig Deep
UCSB racked up 174 digs in its opening three matches last weekend, led by 37 from senior Torre Glasker and 35 from sophomore Zoe Fleck. Fleck was especially sensational in the five-set win over Wyoming, producing a match-high 28 digs, while Glasker tallied 21.Both Lindsey Ruddins (16) and sophomore setter Olivia Lovenberg (10) reached double-figure digs in the match to give UCSB 92 compared to Wyoming's 75. 

Fabulous Freshmen
A handful of Gaucho freshmen turned in impressive debuts during the Buffs Invitational. Deni Wilson, who earned a Big West Freshman Player of the Week nomination, totaled 25 kills and 10 blocks in three matches while adding five digs. Redshirt freshman Tallulah Froley is third on the team behind Ruddins and Wilson with 23 kills and had matches with nine, seven and seven kills. Freshman Romoni Vivao displayed her versatility while splitting time with Olivia Lovenberg at setter, tallying 56 assists and 23 digs over the weekend. Against Wyoming, Vivao had 24 assists and nine digs before tallying a 17-assist, 11-dig double-double against Colorado. Rounding out the strong freshmen play during the opening weekend was Tasia Farmer, who totaled 13 kills in two matches, putting together seven, with five digs and two blocks against the Buffaloes. 

Preseason Poll
UCSB was selected to finish third in the Big West Conference this season, as voted by the nine head coaches. Back-to-back conference champion Cal Poly was selected to three-peat with a total of 77 points, including five first-place votes, while Hawai'i was picked to finish second with 76 points, along with the remaining four first-place votes. UCSB followed with 59 points, while UC Irvine (52) and Long Beach State (46) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the poll was UC Davis with 39 points, CSUN with 27, UC Riverside with 18 and Cal State Fullerton with 11.

AVCA Academic Award Winners
The Gauchos earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the fifth consecutive year.The prestigious award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale UCSB was one of 189 Division I programs and a record 1,126 total AVCA Team Academic Award recipients this year.

Depth and Experience to Guide UCSB in 2019
Following a fourth-place finish in the Big West and a NIVC postseason appearance last season, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team is poised to climb the standings in 2019 with 12 returning letterwinners, including five starters, and a talented incoming class of seven."We are really excited for the 2019 season," said head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, who enters her seventh season at the helm of the Gauchos. "We have the most depth in the program that we've had since I've been here. We have a lot of returning experience, so that's a great combination heading into the year. Expectations are high and we are going to push a lot of teams." Full Preview