UC Davis Bests Sac State In Causeway Showdown

Senior Allison Whitson amassed 55 kills and 41 digs in 12 sets during the Fresno State Classic. The Aggies went 2-1 in the tourney.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)

Fresno State 3, UC Davis 0 | UC Davis 3, Sac State 1

FRESNO, Calif. - Senior Allison Whitson and junior Devon Damelio each tallied 14 kills while sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee hit .467 and offered seven block assists at the net, helping UC Davis battle back from a first-set loss to a 19-25, 25-13, 25-23, 25-20 win over Sacramento State at the Fresno State Classic women's volleyball tournament Saturday night.

Late update: Whitson was selected as tournament MVP while Damelio and Lee each earned all-tournament nods. Whitson averaged 4.58 kills and 3.42 digs during the three matches. Damelio totaled 36 kills, 26 digs and 10 blocks in 12 sets. Lee posted 15 total blocks (two solos, 13 assists) and hit 17 kills for the weekend.

Both the Aggies and Hornets move to 4-5 for the year. The match also awards 10 points to UC Davis in the annual Causeway Cup multi-sport competition. Women's volleyball is the first of the four 10-point sports to square off with its Interstate 80 rival.

The Aggies split their matches for the day, having fallen to Fresno State in straight sets of 25-23, 25-23 and 26-24.

In addition to her hitting output, Whitson was one of four Aggies to compile double-figured digs totals. She had 15, senior libero Caroline Mercado led the team with 19, senior defensive specialist Kaitlyn Plum notched 16 while setter Jenny Woolway added 12. Woolway also had five blocks for the match. Lee and fellow sophomore middle Katie Quinn each posted seven block assists for the Aggies, who totaled 14 team stuffs in the victory.

For the Hornets, sophomore outside hitter Janelle Currey scored match highs of 16 kills and 21 digs.

Sacramento State struck first in the Causeway Cup showdown, scoring the first three points of the set en route to a 9-4 start. A pair of Hornet hitting errors cut the lead to 10-8 but Hannah Hettinger's ace highlighted a 4-0 Sac State run to pad the edge to six. Currey tallied a solo block and a kill down the stretch as UC Davis never gained ground for the remainder of the frame.

Undeterred, the Aggies dominated the second set, improving to .057 hitting in opener to a thunderous .548 on 18 kills in the subsequent set. Lee delivered consecutive block assists in a 4-0 start, sophomore Valerie Brain posted a solo block and a kill to extend UC Davis' lead to 8-2, then Damelio's offense helped boost that advantage to 15-6. Damelio tallied six kills, Whitson added five while Lee had four blocks in that set.

The Aggies again jumped out early in the third, crafting a 7-4 lead behind two Lee kills and a Mercado service ace. The Hornets inched their way back to a 10-10 tie on Jessie Genger's ace, only to have Brain and Damelio restore the lead with a pair of kills. Sacramento State managed to tie the set again but never overtook UC Davis for the lead. A block and kill from Lee subsequently pushed the Aggie lead to 19-15. Another Damelio kill provided UC Davis with double set point, and while Sac State managed to score the side out with an attempt to tie, a service error gave the Aggies the match lead at 2-1.

Currey stormed out to four kills in a 10-6 Hornet start to the fourth, and Kayla Beal later helped keep Sac State up by a 15-12 margin. The Hornet offense then sputtered to three straight hitting errors, tying the set at 15-all. Currey scored a block assist and a kill to put Sac State back on top, 17-15, but again the attacking woes led to five unanswered UC Davis points. Setter Jenny Woolway and sophomore middle blocker Katie Quinn combined for two blocks during the next stretch, putting the Aggies in a 23-19 footing. But the Sac State errors continued: UC Davis scored the final two points on opposing attacking errors. In all, only eight of the Aggies' 25 points came from kills - the Hornets committed 12 attack errors and four service errors. Plum served up an ace to account for the balance.

Whitson hammered a match-high 17 kills in the Aggies' three-set loss against host Fresno State in Saturday's early session. Damelio had 10 kills, six digs and three blocks while Mercado picked up 14 digs. Junior setter Lindsay Dowd highlighted the third frame with 10 assists and 3-for-4 hitting.

UC Davis fought back from a 10-5 deficit in the first set to tie the proceedings at 17-17, but the Bulldogs responded with three straight on kills by Maci Murdock and Marissa Brand to regain the lead. The Aggies inched their way back to within a single-point deficit on three occasions before Woolway and Katie Quinn combined for a block to equalize at 23-23. However, FSU junior Megan Callahan scored a side-out kill to establish set point, then Murdock and Korrin Wild teamed up for a block to put the match score at 1-0.

The two teams continued to battle for the remainder of the match, combining for 23 leads and 10 lead changes in the second and third sets. Damelio had a block assist and a kill in a 5-1 start to the second. Fresno State responded with seven of the next nine points to take an 8-7 lead. Then Whitson and Quinn had kills to tip the scoreboard back to UC Davis' favor, 9-8. The Aggies did not surrender that lead for most of the second, taking a 22-20 advantage behind a pair of Whitson kills. UC Davis committed two hitting errors to allow FSU to tie the set at 22-22, then Whitson tallied her ninth kill of the frame to give the Aggies a 23-22 lead and a chance to tie the match before the break. But Callahan put down three straight kills to claim the set win.

Murdock scored a kill and an ace while Brand tallied three straight kills to give FSU a 6-1 start to the third, but Whitson's offense helped UC Davis climb out of the hole to an 8-8 tie. The Aggie senior later had two kills and two blocks in a run of four answered points to give the guests a 13-11 lead. Quinn's kill kept the UC Davis margin at two, coaxing the Bulldogs to take a timeout at 16-14. FSU came back out to score three straight in taking back the lead at 17-16. Brain then fired off a kill and a solo stuff, then Dowd scored a second-contact kill to form a 3-0 run and give UC Davis a 19-17 lead.

Both teams locked up at 22-22, 23-23 and 24-24 before Wild's kill put herself at the service line and gave the Bulldogs match point. Brand and Murdock completed the sweep with a block.

This is the third of four tournaments on UC Davis' 2012 slate. The Aggies will compete at the Butler Invitational, held in the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse the following weekend. However, they will host San Francisco for a rare midweek home match on Tuesday. Match time is 7 p.m. at the Pavilion.