FRESNO, Calif. -
Senior outside hitter Allison Whitson tallied a career-high 24 kills and 17 digs to lead UC Davis to a five-set, 25-15, 13-25, 26-28, 25-19, 15-10 victory over Utah Valley in Friday's second match at the Fresno State Classic women's volleyball tournament, held at the Save Mart Center.
The Aggies improve to 3-4 for the season. The Wolverines dip to 2-4.
Whitson had nine of her total kills in the marathon third set. Senior libero Caroline Mercado picked up a match-best 22 digs, sophomore middle blocker Katie Quinn hit 7-for-16 with just one error, and sophomore Victoria Lee matched Quinn with five total blocks. UC Davis also enjoyed a key contribution from its reserve corps, as sophomore Mary Schroeder chipped in 4-0-6 attacking numbers.
Sophomore McKenna Tait led UVU with a double-double 11 kills and 12 digs while libero Patti Hatch led her team's floor defense with 21 digs.
The Aggies committed just two attack errors in a relatively smooth-sailing first set, claiming the 25-15 win behind .417 hitting. Whitson had four kills and Quinn had three block assists as UC Davis never trailed. However, the second set stood in stark contrast, as the Aggies managed just eight kills and hit negative-.025, suffering a 12-point loss to equalize the match score. UVU also served up three aces and totaled four blocks at the net.
The two teams battled to 13 ties and five lead changes before UVU emerged with the win in the third set. The Wolverines crafted a late 20-15 edge before the Aggies answered with six straight to reclaim the lead at 21-20. Whitson, Quinn, Valerie Brain and Devon Damelio each knocked down kills in that run in support of Mercado's serving.
However, UVU responded with four of the next five points to capture a double set point at 24-22. But Whitson converted a side out for her eighth kill of the stanza and Damelio equalized on the next serve. The two teams traded points two more times to a 26-26 tie before Lauren Stringham hit back-to-back kills to close out the set. Whitson hit 9-2-17 and Mercado dug up eight shots in that third frame.
Both teams suffered hitting miscues early in the fourth set before Damelio's consecutive winners put the Aggies out to a 14-10 lead. UVU battled back to a one-point deficit on three occasions, including a Tait kill that made it 18-17. But Quinn's kill and a Megan Lancaster ace fueled a 5-1 Aggie run that effectively forced the final set. Quinn hit 3-for-3 in the fourth. Lee had two blocks, including a solo stuff against Stringham for the set-winner.
The Aggies carried their late fourth-set momentum into the fifth, scoring the first five points and eight of the first 10. Schroeder had three kills in four swings, Lee had three more blocks and Whitson racked five kills in the finale, all helping UC Davis post a .318 clip on the attack.
Whitson's 24 kills eclipsed her previous best of 21, set at Sacramento State almost exactly one year ago. Coincidentally, the Aggies will face the Hornets in the only volleyball meeting of the Causeway Cup in Saturday's portion of the tournament. UC Davis faces host FSU at noon then opens the evening session with the matchup against Sacramento State at 5 p.m.