UCSB Continues Conference Play with UC Davis, UC Riverside at Home

Zoe Fleck (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Zoe Fleck (Photo by Jeff Liang)

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The Schedule 
Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Davis
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Aggies: 22-10
Streak vs. UCD: Won 1
2018 Series: Split 1-1
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com
Video: BigWest TV

Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Riverside
at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Highlanders: 37-5
Streak vs. UCR: Won 2
2018 Series: UCSB 2-0
Live Stats: UCSBGauchos.com
Video: BigWest TV

Last Week in Review
The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team got off to a hot start to Big West play with three wins last week. The Gauchos grinded out a five-set, comeback win over CSUN in the Thunderdome before heading out on the road to sweep both UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. With a 3-0 conference record, UCSB sits in first place in the Big West, tied with Cal Poly (3-0) while No. 11 Hawai'i (2-0) and UC Davis (2-0) are also undefeated through the first week. 

The Week Ahead
The Gauchos continue conference play with a pair of home matches this weekend. On Friday, Oct. 4, Santa Barbara welcomes UC Davis (10-5, 2-0) to the Thunderdome at 7:00 p.m. before hosting UC Riverside (5-8, 1-1) on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 5:00 p.m.

UCSB on BigWest TV
Both matches this week will be available to stream on BigWest TV. Additionally, live stats will be available through UCSBGauchos.com. 

Winning Streak
UCSB has won 11 straight matches, currently the sixth best streak in the nation, and its 13-1 start is the program's best since the 2002 Gauchos started 23-0. The 11 wins in-a-row is also the longest winning streak under head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, and the longest since the 2004 Gauchos won 13 straight. 

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. With a 13-1 record, the Gauchos have the fifth best winning percentage in the country at .929. 

In the Polls
For the second straight week, UCSB finds itself receiving votes in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll. The Gauchos made their first appearance last week with five votes, and jumped up to 27 votes after another undefeated week. UCSB will look to crack the Top-25 for the first time since they were ranked as high as No. 15 in 2005. 

Scouting the Opponents
UC Davis is 10-5 overall in 2019, and off to a 2-0 start in conference after wins over UC Irvine and UC Riverside last week. Last season, the Aggies and Gauchos split the season series, with UCD topping UCSB in five sets on the Gauchos home court before UCSB upended UC Davis 3-1 on the road. The Aggies are led offensively by senior outside hitter Lauren Matias (192 kills, 3.62 k/s) and sophomore outside Mahalia White (176 kills, 3.32 k/s). UC Riverside, meanwhile, is 5-8 to start the year and 1-1 in conference after falling to UC Davis and defeating Cal State Fullerton. UCSB won both matches against UCR last season and is 37-5 against the Highlanders all-time. Riverside is led by freshman Amarachi Osuji, who leads the team with 144 kills (2.88 k/s). 

Record-Breaking Ruddins
In the second game of the season, 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 also propelled her past Danielle Bauer (1999-2002). Ruddins, the all-time rally scoring leader with 1,759 career kills, is chasing only Roberta Gehlke (1996-99), who is the all-time leader with 2,153. Ruddins also recently tied the conference record with her 11th all-time Big West Player of the Week selection. 

Block Party
The Gauchos rank 22nd in the nation and second in the Big West with 140 total blocks. UCSB has displayed a tough defensive presence at the net thus far, led by Rowan Ennis who ranks 29th in the country with 66 total blocks. Freshman Deni Wilson has also been a factor at the net, and is second on the team with 55 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 323 assists (6.24 a/s) while Vivao has impressed in her debut season with 280 assists (5.09 a/s). 

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.