Torre Glasker
Torre Glasker of UCSb hits pas the Cal Poly block of Meredith Phillips (16) and Jessica McRoskey. Glasker had 10 kills. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

In its previous match, the UCSB women volleyball team had an off night and was swept by Hawai’i.

When the Gauchos took the court on Saturday night against Big West leader Cal Poly, they were without offensive leader Lindsey Ruddins, who was sidelined with an injury,

So how did they respond? 

The Gauchos battled through adversity and the Mustangs without flinching and won the match in four sets at the Thunderdome, 25-19, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21.

Senior Torre Glasker stepped up and recorded a double-double of 10 kills and a team-high 16 digs, had four blocks (1 solo, 3 assists) and passed well to spark the Gauchos.

“That’s a senior captain stepping up,” UCSB coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said of Glasker. “We were asking her to do more today. She just handled that beautifully and embraced it, and she did a great job slowing down (Cal Poly leader Maia Dvoracek) and blocking against her as well. She came to play tonight and really led us out there.”

Glasker knew she and her teammates would have to step up without the All-American Ruddins in the lineup.

Kija Rivers

Kija Rivers hits through the block of Cal Poly’s Nikki Jackson (10) and Madilyn Mercer. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

“Going into this week, Lindsey got hurt and she’s a big key to our team, so we knew we had to come out with a lot of heart if wanted to win this game and come together,” said Glasker. “Facing adversity, I think our team did a really great job tonight of doing that.”

Added Welch: “Just a huge team win in the face of adversity. We didn’t play so great our last time out, so to bounce back from that and pull together as team was just awesome.

“Our mentality was everyone has to bring their best and I think we handled it a lot better. We were aggressive and that helped us.”

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Tallulah Froley blasted a career-high 16 kills and sophomore middle Kija Rivers added 7 kills for UCSB, which is now tied for first with the Mustangs at 6-1. The Gauchos are 16-2 overall and Cal Poly is 13-6

The quick-hitting Dvoracek led Cal Poly with 19 kills and middles Madilyn Mercer and Meredith Phillips each had eight kills.

The defense by UCSB made a huge difference in the match. Setters Olivia Lovenberg and Romoni Vivao joined Glasker in double-figures for digs with 11 and 10, respectively, and libero Zoe Fleck added nine.

“Honestly, the big key tonight was we had to pick it up defensively,” said Welch. “We out blocked them significantly (20-8) and we outdug them (61-51), and that’s where we really grinded to get sone points.”

There was a sequence in the fourth set that exemplified UCSB’s tenacity on defense. Ahead 17-13, Fleck ran into the Gaucho bench to chase an errant pass and kept the ball in play. Cal Poly almost scored on a tip but Vivao sprawled on the floor to pick up the ball and middle Rowan Ennis finished the play with a big kill.

“You’re going up against the top team in the conference and you’re going to have to be special, make some special plays. And that epitomized what we had to bring tonight,” said Welch.

UCSB put the pressure on Cal Poly right from the start, opening up a 9-2 lead. Froley scored three points and Vivao served two aces during the run.

A crushing spike from the right side by Froley gave the Gauchos a 21-15 lead.

Deni Wilson and Gigi Ruddins combined to block Dvoracek for the set-winning point.

Gaucho block

UCSB’s Rowan Ennis, left and Gigi Ruddins put up a block against Cal Poly’s Maia Dvoracek. The Gauchos had 61 blocks in the match. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

The teams battled back and forth in the second set until UCSB took the lead for good with a four-point run to go up 23-19. After a Gigi Ruddins side out, Kobie Jimenez came off the bench and served back-to-back aces. The first one was sinker ball and the second  was a floater into the far corner.

“She delivered an amazing spark for us,” said Glasker of Jimenez, a Ventura High alum. “That’s exactly what we needed to finish that second set. We were so glad she was able to come in under pressure and give us those serves.”

Glasker tipped a short set from Lovenberg for the 24th point and the Mustangs served into the net for the Gauchos’ winning point.

Cal Poly stepped up its intensity in the third set. The Gauchos were leading 12-11when Kendra Hamm went on an eight-point serving run to put the Mustangs ahead for good.

UCSB shook off the loss and took a 6-3 lead to start the fourth set.

“I told them we had to play free and not be afraid to lose,” Welch said of her message to the team after the third set. “We still got to play to win, go after it and be aggressive. That was the message because we got tentative in that third set. We got back on our heels.

“I said, ‘No. We got to to be the attackers now and be the aggressive ones and play free.’”

Cal Poly stayed close until the Gauchos went on 6-1 run to go ahead 16-10. They scored three in row as Froley smartly tipped the ball into an open area, Ennis and Glasker combined on a block and the Mustangs hit the ball wide.

Ennis’ kill after the scramble by Fleck and the sprawling dig by Vivao made it 18-13. After a serving error, the Gauchos scored two more points on a Cal Poly service error and an ace by Lovenberg for a 20-15 advantage,

The Mustangs made it interesting as they scored three straight points to cut the deficit to 23-20.

Lovenberg set Glasker and she hit down the line for a 24-20 lead. 

Jessica McRoskey sided out for Cal Poly before Glasker finished the match by cutting the ball off the Mustang blockers. 

“We talked a little bit about grit in the locker room and having that grit,” said Welch of the team’s mindset. “We have such great athletes and we kept so many plays alive. (The team’s performance) was a lot of fight and heart and everyone coming together.”

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.