Gauchos Set for Pivotal Blue-Green Rivalry Match at Cal Poly on Saturday

Kjia Rivers (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Kjia Rivers (Photo by Jeff Liang)

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The Schedule 
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly
at Mott Athletics Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Mustangs: 50-32
Streak vs. CP: Won 1
Last Meeting: Oct. 19, 2019 (UCSB def. CP, 3-1)
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com
Video: BigWest.TV

Last Week in Review
The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team grinded out a 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 31-29, 25-15) victory over Long Beach State at home last Tuesday before nearly upsetting No. 21 Hawai'i in Honolulu on Friday night, but ultimately fell 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 25-18, 17-15) to the now first-place Rainbow Wahine. Lindsey Ruddins had a phenomenal week with 21 kills against Long Beach and a season-best 27 kills on 80 attempts at UH. The win against the Beach gave UCSB (19-3, 9-2 Big West) its 19th on the year, the most in the Nicole Lantagne Welch era, and the most for the Gauchos in a season since 2011.

The Week Ahead
The Gauchos play just one match this week, but it's quite possibly the biggest of the season, with a pivotal Blue-Green Rivalry showdown at Cal Poly on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. 

UCSB on BigWest.TV
Saturday's match will be available to stream on BigWest.TV. Additionally, live stats will be available through UCSBGauchos.com. 

Clash with Cal Poly
Earlier this season, the Gauchos handed the Mustangs their first loss in Big West play, topping their rivals 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21) in the Thunderdome. It was the first win for UCSB over Cal Poly in its previous four matchups, and the Gauchos will look to start a streak of its own on Saturday. The Mustangs, however, have won a nation-best 29 straight matches at home, with their last loss at the Mott Athletics Center coming at the hands of UCSB back on Oct. 28, 2016. Saturday's match will not only have implications for the Big West standings, but for a possible berth to the NCAA Tournament as well. Both UCSB and Cal Poly are 9-2 in conference play, tied for second-place. Hawai'i sits in first for the time being with a 10-2 record.

Nearing No. 100
With her 99th career win at UCSB last Tuesday, head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch is one win away from No. 100 as a Gaucho. She can reach the milestone with a win over Cal Poly on Saturday. In her 19-year head coaching career, that started at Miami, Lantagne Welch boasts a 342-212 record (.617 winning percentage). 

In the Polls
For the seventh straight week, UCSB finds itself receiving votes in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll. The Gauchos earned 10 votes in Monday's poll, and sit just six spots outside of the Top-25. Big West foe Hawai'i is ranked No. 19. 

RPI Position
Santa Barbara is sitting at No. 26 in the latest RPI rankings, with Hawai'i leading the Big West at No. 11. Cal Poly is the next closes in the conference at 41. 

On the Road
The Gauchos are in the midst of a four-match road trip, and a stretch of six road matches in seven games. With a loss at Hawai'i, UCSB is now 5-2 in true road contests, but 9-2 overall away from the Thunderdome when you include neutral matches. 

Fantastic Froley
Redshirt freshman Tallulah Froley has been intrumental to the Gauchos success in her debut season. Helping to shoulder the offensive load, Froley is second on the team with 228 kills (2.92 k/s) and ranks fourth on the team with 49 total blocks. The Half Moon Bay, Calif. native has already been named Big West Freshman of the Week three times, and Player of the Week once. 

Ruddins Breaks Big West Record with 12th Player of the Week Selection
Senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins broke the all-time Big West record with her 12th career conference Player of the Week honor earlier this season. Ruddins, who earned four weekly awards as a sophomore, five as a junior, and three so far as a senior, surpassed the previous record of 11 held by Cal Poly's Kylie Atherstone. 

September to Remember
With one of the best months of volleyball in recent years, UCSB went a perfect 11-0 in the month of September. Now sporting a 19-3 record, the Gauchos have the 17th best winning percentage in the country at .864.

In the Record Books
In the second game of the season, Lindsey Ruddins registered a game-high 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 also propelled her past Danielle Bauer (1999-2002). Ruddins, the all-time rally scoring leader with 1,876 career kills, is chasing only Roberta Gehlke (1996-99), who is the all-time leader with 2,153. While climbing the UCSB ranks, Ruddins has also now moved to the sixth slot in the Big West Conference record book.

Can You Dig It?
Sophomore libero Zoe Fleck leads the Gauchos with 317 digs while averaging 3.87 digs per set, good to rank third in both categories in the Big West. The Granada Hills, Calif. native has notched double-digit dig totals in 16 of the 22 matches this season with a match-high 28 against Wyoming on Aug. 31. 

Block Party
The Gauchos rank 28th in the nation and second in the conference with 2.57 blocks per set. UCSB has displayed a tough defensive presence at the net thus far, led by Rowan Ennis who ranks 38th in the country and second in the Big West with 104 total blocks. Freshman Deni Wilson has also been a factor at the net, and is second on the team with 86 total blocks.

Set in Stone
The Gauchos' setting tandem has been solid with sophomore Olivia Lovenberg and freshman Romoni Vivao splitting time running the offense. An All-Big West Freshman Team selection last season, Lovenberg leads the team with 513 assists (6.18 a/s) while Vivao has impressed in her debut season with 413 assists (4.98 a/s). UCSB ranks 26th in the nation and first in the conference with an average of 12.90 assists per set.