UC Santa Barbara emerged as USF Challenge champs after downing St. John’s in four sets and finishing off host USF in a sweep on Saturday night.

“Certainly it is great to go out and play hard and be rewarded with a victory and a tournament championship,” women’s volleyball coach head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said.

The Gauchos improve to 8-2 on the season.

After recording a team-high 38 kills (3.8/set), 19 digs and six blocks, Lindsey Ruddins was named the tournament’s MVP, as she was named to her third straight all-tournament team. Also joining her with all-tourney honors was Phoebe Grunt who recorded 27 kills and paced the Gauchos with her .488 hitting clip. The middle also finished second on the team with seven blocks.

The Gauchos started the day by handing St. John’s its first loss of the season, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23. After dropping the first set 25-16 with a .088 hitting percentage, the Gauchos bounced back in the second to take a close set, which would serve as a preview for the final two games.

For the second time this season,  Ruddins reached the 20-kill plateau, averaging five per set with a .214 clip. The redshirt freshman took the lion’s share of swings with 42, nearly one third of UCSB’s total attempts. Continuing with her standout weekend was Grunt who finished with 12 kills with a sharp .450 kill percentage.

Hannah Juley recorded her third 40-plus assist performance of the season and also picked up five digs, a category which Emilia Petrachi led the match in with 16.

In the blocking game, Chanel Hoffman and Megan Rice paced the roster with three blocks apiece. Those numbers helped Hoffman record 14.5 points (she also had 11 kills) and helped Rice reach a career-high.

UCSB’s pin hitters led the way in to a season-high .377 hitting effort against San Francisco, while the defense held the Dons to an anemic .078 clip en route to a 3-0 sweep (26-24, 25-12, 25-15).

“We were high error to start the match and I liked how we settled down into an earning mentality both for us while forcing USF to do so as well,” Welch said. “Chanel was firing in all aspects of the game tonight and did so many important things for this team. We followed her lead.”

Ruddins and  Hoffman carried the offense with 11 kills apiece, as Hoffman led the team with a first-rate attacking performance of a .588 clip. Behind them was Grunt who held down the middle with seven kills and a .556 hitting percentage.