SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A day after earning Big West Player of the Week honors for her standout performance against a trio of conference opponents, UC Santa Barbara redshirt sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week, becoming the first Gaucho in nearly a decade to earn that distinction.
Ruddins recorded at least 20 kills (6.64 per set) in all three of UCSB's victories last week, bringing her average for the season up to 5.62 per set, just behind national leader Pilar Victoria of Arkansas.
Most impressively, she recorded those prolific kills-numbers on .300 hitting. Not just an offensive dynamo, she also took care of her defensive responsibilities, notching 31 combined digs against UC Davis and Long Beach State for her sixth and seventh double-doubles of the year. Even her blocking played a key role in the Gauchos' strong week, as a pair of late blocks solo from Ruddins turned out to be the deciding factor in a tight first set against the 49ers.
"Lindsey had a phenomenal week – it isn't just the number of kills and doing that while hitting .300 as an outside, but it is also performing that highly when the other team is trying to set up their defense to stop you," said UCSB head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. "She's getting smarter as an attacker and adjusting her approach based on how the defense is playing her. She also worked hard to improve her blocking, and that showed up in the matches this week alongside her defensive efforts in the back row."
The reigning Big West Freshman of the Year is the first Gaucho to be named the National Player of the Week by the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) since Rebecca Saraceno on Sept. 29, 2009. Ruddins joins an exclusive club of Gaucho stars to earn weekly honors from the AVCA, including Kristin Nelson (2004), Roberta Gehlke (1999), Katie Crawford (1996, 1997), and Chrissy Boehle (1994).
Ruddins started her week off with a 26-kill, 15-dig double-double on the road at UC Davis last Tuesday, helping the Gauchos to their first road victory of the season. She and the Gauchos made a triumphant return to the Thunderdome on Friday night against LBSU, as she had 27 kills and 16 digs (both season-highs for a conference match) in just four sets. She finished her standout week with 20 kills on .325 hitting in a sweep of CSUN on Saturday night.
The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has now led the Gauchos in kills in 15 straight appearances and has notched 20 or more kills 11 times. Her 36 kills against then No. 15 Florida State on Aug. 26 remain the most single-match kills by any player in the NCAA this year.
She and the rest of the Gauchos wrap up a three-match homestand this Saturday against Hawai'i.