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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 11:36 pm | Fair 44º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
College Volleyball

Lindsey Ruddins Shines in UCSB Sweep at Irvine

UCSB made it four straight victories on Saturday night, overpowering UC Irvine 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-21) on the road.

Freshman Lindsey Ruddins dominated the match from start to finish, recording a near triple-double with a match-best 15 kills, nine digs, and a career-high eight aces.

It wasn't all Ruddins, though. UCSB (16-9, 7-5) utilized a balanced offensive attack all night that saw five players average at least 2.33 kills per set. The Gauchos finished with a .281 hitting percentage as a team, their sixth-best mark of the season and highest in their last 13 outings.

Elizabeth Sheffield was outstanding once again in the middle, tallying nine kills and hitting at an impressive .348 clip. The senior also finished with a match-high three blocks.

Quarterbacking the Gaucho attack was setter Hannah Juley, who finished with a match-high 37 assists (12.33 per set) to go along with seven digs.

"I felt offensively that we were really in sync," Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "I thought Hannah did an excellent job tonight of really giving us a balanced offense and getting the middles going."

UCSB took control midway through the first set after back-to-back aces from Ruddins gave her team a 14-9 advantage. Strong defending and solid play in the middle from Sheffield and Phoebe Grunt, who had seven kills combined in the first set, helped the Gauchos hold Irvine at bay until an Anteater attacking error gave UCSB a 25-22 win.

Just as she did in the first set, Ruddins recorded back-to-back aces midway through the set, giving her team a 14-11 lead.

"Lindsey was on fire from the service line. She hit at a really high clip, she was in a zone offensively," Lantagne Welch said. "Sometimes a really good server can get in the other team's head, and I think she put pressure on them and it got to the point where they really didn't want to handle it. She was just really aggressive from start to finish and it paid off."

An 8-1 run in which five different Gauchos recorded either a kill or an ace gave UCSB a commanding 22-14 lead. Ruddins would later end the set with another thunderous kill.

In the third set, Ruddins recorded back-to-back aces for the third time to put her team up 16-11. Irvine would hold on late in the set, surviving two match points before Ruddins finally finished them off with her 15th kill.

Two Gauchos recorded double-digit digs on the night, with Emilia Petrachi leading the way with 20 digs and Sydney Bast tying a season-high with 11.

"Syd had an all-around great match," Lantagne Welch said. "She passed really well and picked up some key digs. She had a great weekend for us."

Megan Rice and Chloe Allen both chipped in with eight kills apiece, while Grunt finished with seven hitting at a .357 clip.

With four matches left to play, UCSB currently possesses the fourth-best record in the conference at 7-5. The Gauchos will be back at home this week for Friday and Saturday night matches against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.

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