Aggies split Day 2 of Denver's Pioneer Classic

Freshman Mahalia White totaled 20 kills in Saturday's doubleheader in Denver.
(Mark Honbo, Athletics Communications)
Sept. 2, 2017

Eastern Illinois 3, UC Davis 0 | UC Davis 3, Niagara 0

DENVER - Freshman opposite Mahalia White posted a team-leading 20 kills in six sets as UC Davis split its Saturday matches at the Pioneer Classic women's volleyball tournament at Hamilton Gymnasium. The Aggies fell in straight sets, 25-18, 26-24, 26-24, to Eastern Illinois during their morning action, then swept Niagara by scores of 25-20, 25-22, 25-10 to close out the weekend.

White had nine kills on 19 attempts for a .316 average in the nightcap against the Purple Eagles, following an 11-3-22 (.364) offensive chart in the Day 2 opener against the Panthers. Junior outside hitter Emily Allen had 17 kills for the day, including 12-1-24 hitting (.458) against EIU. Junior middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri totaled 10 blocks for the day, while freshman Alexa Rockas -- in her collegiate debut weekend -- added another seven.

UC Davis, ranked t25th in this week's midmajor poll at, returns home to host Sacramento State in the women's volleyball edition of the Causeway Classic Tuesday night. Match time is 7 p.m.

Allen notched 12 kills with just one error while White added 11 kills, but Eastern Illinois held off UC Davis for the final points of each of the final two sets in Saturday morning's 3-0 sweep. Ohiri contributed on eight of the Aggies' 13.5 team blocks in the match.

The Panthers enjoyed a 6-0 run midway through the first set to take the 25-18 win, but UC Davis managed a greater challenge in the second and third frames. After EIU managed a 12-9 lead early in the second, the Aggies tied the set six times, including a 24-24 knot that followed a pair of Panther set points. Allen had five kills on 11 swings in the second set while White hit 5-for-9, but Eastern pulled away for the final two tallies to take a 2-0 match lead at the break.

The third set was even more hotly contested, with the two teams battling to 17 ties and six lead changes. Allen and White combined for nine kills in the finale, with Ohiri, Rockas, junior Brianna Karsseboom and sophomore Lauren Matias each recording two blocks. Karsseboom teamed with Ohiri on a stuff at 23-22, then she scored a kill of her own for a 24-22 set point. However, EIU freshman Laurel Bailey served up two aces in a 3-0 finish to complete the match sweep.

White's nine kills helped the Aggies to a .270 team hitting average in Saturday's three-set nightcap win over Niagara. Karsseboom, Matias and Ohiri each chipped in seven kills with just four errors between the group. Rockas led the net defense with five block assists, as UC Davis held the Eagles to just .011 hitting for the match, with negative averages for the first and third sets. Freshman setter Paloma Bowman and junior libero Malia Bolko also served up three aces each in the victory.

Matias hit 3-for-6 while Rockas posted two block assists in the opener. The two teams stayed evenly matched early on before three straight Niagara errors handed UC Davis an 11-8 lead. The Aggies extended that margin to 18-12, thanks in part to an Ohiri solo stuff. Matias put down two kills in the three final points to seal the win.

UC Davis led wire to wire in each of its second- and third-set victories. Ohiri hit 3-for 3, with back-to-back kills helping craft a 15-8 lead. A pair of Aggie errors plus a Rylee Hunt ace brought Niagara to within two at 16-14, but UC Davis responded with five unanswered in restoring its lead to 21-14. Bowman served up two aces while Rockas had a block and a kill during that stretch. The Eagles again fought off two match points to close the gap to 24-22 before Ohiri converted the side out and the game-winner.

The Aggies came back from the break with a 6-0 run to start the third set, then later enjoyed a 6-1 run to widen their advantage to as much as 18-6. White posted back-to-back kills during that run. Sophomore Anna Donald came off the bench with two more kills down the final stretch, helping to seal UC Davis' biggest set win of the young 2017 season.

UC Davis finished 1-2 for the tournament. Allen (27) and White (26) led the team in kills, while Ohiri (12) and Rockas (9) paced another sizable weekend of blocking numbers. Overall, the Aggies averaged 2.83 stuffs per set. UPDATE: Allen was announced to the Pioneer Classic All-Tournament team following Saturday's final match.

Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.

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