If you were to only look at the stat sheet, it was just another dominant night for the UCSB women’s volleyball team.
The Gauchos (15-1, 4-0) hit a season-best .451 en route to its fourth-straight shutout, beating UC Riverside by set scores of 25-8, 25-5, 25-15. The .451 clip is UCSB’s fifth-highest mark in the rally scoring era.
“This is absolutely insane. I am so proud of us, we have really stepped it up since the CSUN match. Our setters are getting us with one block up every time and that is incredible,” redshirt freshman Tallulah Froley said.
In addition, Santa Barbara won its 13th straight match, tying the best mark since 2004.
But, for redshirt junior Chloe Allen, it was just the second opportunity of her final season to play in front of her home crowd.
With the Gauchos holding a commanding 16-3 lead in the second set, Allen was substituted in the game. Right away, she began to serve and showcased a powerful shot.
Five points later, Allen’s powerful serve landed giving her an ace. Her next shot was the same result. The back-to-back aces gave UCSB a 23-3 lead.
“I felt great. That is what you have to do, you slowly ramp it up and it felt good to rev up and finally get them,” Allen said.
At set point, Allen showed her defensive prowess with a great dig. It was so great in fact, it found the back corner of the court, leading to the Gauchos earning the final point to seal the set victory and go up 2-0.
“It wasn’t the best kill, obviously, it was from a dig. But, it counts and that is all that matters,” Allen said.
Allen, a Santa Barbara native who played her high school career at San Marcos, has had a bit of an up and down career in college.
At San Marcos, Allen led the Royals to four straight Channel League titles and to a pair of CIF quarterfinal berths in her final two seasons. She was also the Co-MVP of the league in her final campaign.
In her sophomore campaign at UCSB, Allen posted career-high numbers with 156 kills, 136 digs, and 12 service aces, but her junior year was riddled with injury, so much so, she was granted a medical hardship waiver after appearing in seven matches.
This season, Allen has only appeared in three sets over three matches, with only one being in front of her home crowd.
Still, any chance Allen has to play in front of Santa Barbara she is thankful for.
“Every time I go in I hear my parents and friends cheer loud so it’s always fun. It’s been great to stay here. Everyone that supported me in my high school career supports me in my college career so having them cheer me on throughout this season is great,” Allen said.
As Allen enjoyed her night, so did many of the UCSB athletes. Froley led the team in kills for the second night in a row, tying her career-best 15 strikes.
The Half Moon Bay, Calif. native has come alive during the most recent nine-game stretch, tallying a total of 116 kills, however, she cares more about the fact that her team has not had a let down yet.
“We are holding ourselves to a higher standard and we know that there are some games we just have to take care of and play the same every single match. We are learning to be consistent,” Froley said.
Senior Lindsey Ruddins also took care of business tallying 12 kills while her sister, Gigi Ruddins, also produced nicely with six kills.
Since making her first appearance back from injury on Sept. 14, Ruddins has appeared in the last six matches and has looked more settled into her role each time.
Gigi is still in the rehabbing process, but she is almost fully healed, allowing her to go back out onto the court with full confidence.
“It’s always fun cheering on my team when I am not on the court, but when I am, it is even more fun because I could actually contribute. Both are important, but I am so glad to be playing again,” Ruddins said.
Overall, the Gauchos took care of business against UCR (4-10, 1-3) as they never trailed the entire match and only faced three ties, all in the third.
“Our offensive performance was tremendous,” said head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “It started with our passing and Torre, Lindsey, and Zoe all passed so well. And then Olivia and Moni could just distribute. The hitters came through with those openings and its really nice to be clean on your side and focus on what you are doing, and take care of business.”
With no letdowns at home against UC Davis or UC Riveride, UCSB can finally turn its attention to No. 11 Hawaii who it welcomes to the Thunderdome next Saturday.
Hawaii was upset by UC Irvine, losing in five sets on Friday, but coach Lantagne Welch said she expects nothing but the best from the Rainbow Wahine next week, which excites the players on the UCSB side.
“Them (Hawaii) and Cal Poly are always in the back of our minds. We have been getting ready for them the whole season and I am excited to go out there and play with this new team,” Froley said.