There was a part of Lindsey Ruddins’ game that elevate the UCSB women’s volleyball team another level this past season.
While her school-record number of kills were vital to the team’s success, it was the influence she had on everyone around her that made a huge difference.
“Her court confidence this season spilled into her teammates and helped make everyone around her better,” said coach Nicole Lantagne Welch.
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is honoring Ruddins as the College Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Round Table is recognizing Ruddins and all the college and high school athletes of the year from the fall and winter seasons through a virtual Evening With The Athletes. There are no awards for spring sports athletes because their season was cut short by COVID-19.
The award winners are being presented through the Round Table’s social media platforms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and on the Noozhawk.com Sports Page.
Ruddins and the Gauchos finished third in a highly competitive Big West with a 12-4 record and earned a NCAA Tournament berth. They won a tournament match for the first time since 2004 and then pushed second-seeded Texas to the limit in the second round, taking the host Longhorns to five sets before falling 25-22, 19-25, 18-25, 25-18, 15-10.
The Gauchos (23-6) became the first team all season to win two sets against Texas (23-3) at home, and it was the first time Texas lost a set at home in the NCAA Tournament since 2016.
In her final match as a Gaucho, Ruddins recorded her 13th double-double of the season with 23 kills and 16 digs against a Texas team that hadn’t lost two sets at home all season and hadn’t lost a set at home in the NCAA Tournament since 2016.
UCSB ended the season with a 23-6 record, the most wins by the program since 2009.
Ruddins will go down as one of the greatest volleyball players of all time at UCSB.
She is the only Gaucho to earn All-American honors four times and is the program’s all-time kills leader in the rally-scoring era with 1,970; she ranks second overall behind Roberta Gehlke (1997-99).
Ruddins had the most efficient season of her career. Her season kill average was .282, with 439 kills in 29 matches.
But there was more to her game than hitting. She picked up 266 digs, had a career-best 63 blocks and was a solid passer.
“She embraced the role of having to pass in all six rotations so we could run the 6-2 (offense), which made our team more effective and successful,” said Welch. “Everyone is highly aware of her ability to attack and score, even with teams keying in on her. But it was her contributions across the board — passing, blocking, defense – that helped our team have a special season.”