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Thursday, January 24 , 2019, 6:07 am | Fair 42º

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

UCSB Goes 1-1 at UNLV Volleyball Tournament

UC Santa Barbara's young talent took center stage on the first day of the 2016 season, as the Gauchos split their competition with a 3-2 comeback victory over New Mexico State and a 3-0 loss to host UNLV.

"Our team is a very young team and we grew a lot today," UCSB head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "We had some adversity, but we made some adjustments between the matches and we stayed the course and kept fighting with each other. Today was a good growing up experience for us and it feels great to get that win."

Outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins was looked to early and often on offense and she came through with 40 kills between the two matches with a combined .243 hitting clip. She also posted the second-most digs on the team with 23 and added five blocks at the net.

Defensively, the Gauchos were anchored by sophomore Emilia Petrachi who picked up 52 digs overall, averaging a prolific 6.50 digs per set.

UCSB also saw strong outings from middles Phoebe Grunt and Charlie Robinson who each reached double digits in total blocks with 10 and 12, respectively.

The Gauchos will conclude its UNLV Invitational play Saturday against Albany.

After coming up short in a pair of extra point sets with UNLV, the Gauchos dropped their season opener, 29-27, 25-16, 27-25,  at the Cox Pavilion. Despite the loss, UCSB had some highlight performances including a match-high 16-kill effort from redshirt freshman Ruddins.

Ruddins made her return to the floor in a big way with nine kills in the first set, registering a .400 hitting percentage. The redshirt – who hasn't played since September of last season – was UCSB's go-to attacker from the start, as she recorded a team-high 20 swings in the set besting the next closest player by five attempts.

On defense, sophomore  Petrachi picked up right where she left off last season and paced the match with 25 digs, accounting for over 40 percent of UCSB's scoops. The 2015 all-conference libero also added seven assists and one of UCSB's two service aces.

The day's second match against the reigning WAC Champions featured more tight sets, but this time the Gauchos were able to complete their comebacks, while holding off late efforts from the Aggies, as they clinched the match 28-30, 22-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-13.

Ruddins was busy on offense with 24 kills, while Chanel Hoffman joined her in the double digits with 10 of her own. Defensively, Petrachi put up her second 20-plus dig performance of the day with 27, while Charlie Robinson was a force at the net with 11 blocks, five more than the next closest player.

"She's been really solid in practice the last few days and we thought that we'll give her the starting nod and see how she does," Welch said. "And her play in the first match absolutely said something to us too."

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