SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Despite star outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins sidelined due to injury, the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team stepped up in a big way to defeat rival Cal Poly 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21) on Saturday night in the Thunderdome.
Donning pink to raise breast cancer awareness in its annual Pink Game, the Gauchos looked sharp en route to their 16th win of the year. UCSB (16-2, 6-1 Big West) snapped the Mustangs eight-match winning streak, and now move into first place in the conference standings, currently holding the tiebreaker over Cal Poly (13-6, 6-1 Big West).
Tallulah Froley led Santa Barbara with a career-high 16 kills while a trio of Gauchos logged double-doubles. Freshman setter Romoni Vivao recorded the third double-double of her career with 17 assists and 10 digs while sophomore setter Olivia Lovenberg added her third of the season and 13th of her career with 23 assists and 11 digs. Torre Glasker also showcased her all-around talents with a team-high 16 digs to go with 10 kills.
As a team, UCSB outhit Cal Poly .191 to .184, but relied on its strong defensive presence, out-blocking the Mustangs 23-11 and winning the dig battle, 61-51. The Gauchos also took advantage of its effective service in the win, recording nine aces in the match, its second-highest output of the year.
Behind a pair of kills from Froley and a pair of aces from Vivao, the Gauchos jumped out to a 9-3 advantage early in the first set. Cal Poly went on a run midway through the set, but Kjia Rivers and Gigi Ruddins put together back-to-back kills to seal the set 25-19 for the opening win.
The second frame was tightly contested with the two rivals tied up late at 19-19. After a G. Ruddins kill to give UCSB a one-point lead, Kobie Jimenez was subbed into the game and proceeded to serve up critical back-to-back aces to give the Gauchos a slim lead. Lovenberg converted a tricky dump play to extend the run to four straight, 23-19, before a Glasker kill and a Cal Poly service error ended the set in favor of UCSB 25-21.
The third set saw another back-and-forth battle until the Mustangs broke away midway through the game with a 10-1 run to avoid the sweep. Cal Poly hit a match-high .333 in the frame to pull out the 25-15 win and force a fourth set.
In the fourth, it was the Gauchos who pulled away midway through the set, extending its 11-9 lead to 16-10 after a 5-1 spurt. Sparked by Froley's offense and blocking at the net by Glasker, Rowan Ennis and Deni Wilson, UCSB got the separation it needed to hold on for the win. Cal Poly made it interesting with a late 5-1 run of its own, but Glasker put together back-to-back kills for the Gauchos to seal the deal.
Glasker added four blocks to further cement her exceptional all-around play. Wilson and Ennis both led the team with six blocks apiece at the net and libero Zoe Fleck pitched in with nine digs. Rivers finished with seven kills and G. Ruddins added six.
Maia Dvoracek logged a game-high 19 kills for Cal Poly.
UCSB continues conference play next Thursday, Oct. 24 at UC Davis at 7:00 p.m.