Aggies outlast Boise State on first day of UC Davis Invite

Sept. 8, 2017

Final Stats

DAVIS, Calif. - Junior Kelechi Ohiri and freshman Alexa Rockas each posted 11 kills and combined for a .514 hitting average, while Emily Allen and Mahalia White posted 18 and 17 kills, respectively, helping UC Davis to a five-set, 28-26, 15-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-12 win over Boise State to finish the first day of the UC Davis Invitational women's volleyball tournament at the Pavilion Friday.

The Aggies previously lost in four sets by scores of 25-19, 25-16, 21-25, 25-23 to Portland State earlier in Friday's action. Additionally, Boise State swept Santa Clara in three sets, while SCU did the same to Portland State to start the evening portion, meaning all four teams ended Friday's session with identical 1-1 tournament records.

UC Davis moves to 5-4 for the year.

Junior libero Malia Bolko became the ninth player in school history to surpass 1,000 career kills during Saturday's early match. After her 27 in Tuesday's home opener with Sacramento State, she entered the tournament with 984.  Coincidentally, the first Aggie ever to hit that milestone was also in attendance: Hall of Famer Candy Lench (Murphy) is now an assistant coach for Boise State. Bolko had 20 against Portland State plus another 23 against Boise State to finish the day at 1,027. She needs just six more to surpass Caroline Mercado for eighth on the all-time UC Davis career list.

White scored 15 kills while Allen posted a double-double of 14 kills and 14 digs in the Aggies' four-set tourney opener against Portland State. Rockas finished with 10 kills, a .350 average, two blocked shots and a pair of service aces.

Sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Bettenay led all players with 22 kills on 48 swings. She was a major part of the Vikings' first- and second-set wins, hitting an errorless 6-for-9 in the opener, then followed with 9-0-16 (.562) attacking in the next frame.

Allen notched seven kills in the first set, including three amidst a 6-0 stretch that flipped a 9-6 deficit into a 12-9 UC Davis lead. However, PSU later responded with a 10-1 run of its own to take a 20-15 advantage. Similarly in the second, the Vikings employed runs of 4-0 and 5-0 to turn what had been an 8-8 tie into a commanding 21-12 lead. Bettenay went into the break with a 15-0-25 attacking line and her team in a 2-0 match lead.

White pounded out five kills with Ohiri and Brianna Karsseboom providing another three as UC Davis held off a Portland State sweep with a third-set win. Ohiri kicked off the stanza with three kills in a 5-2 start, while Karsseboom's kill and ace highlighted four straight points to 9-5. The Vikings reduced the margin to a single point on two different occasions, but the Aggies managed to stay ahead for the remainder.

UC Davis continued its momentum into a 7-2 start to the fourth, but heavy offense from junior Mikaelyn Sych (5-0-8) and sophomore Toni McDougald (four kills) helped PSU pull away to victory. Meanwhile, Bolko passed the career millenium mark in that set, with freshman setter Paloma Bowman contributing six digs of her own.

Allen's 18 kills and Bolko's 23 digs led the Aggies in those respective categories in a match that saw BSU dominate the second and fourth sets, but UC Davis outperform its guests in the odd-numbered games. Rockas hit 11-2-16 for a .562 clip and two blocks, while fellow middle Ohiri compiled a similar line of 11-2-19 (.474) with a pair of stuffs. Allen also had 22 digs for her second double-double of the day.

UC Davis enjoyed an 8-1 run that flipped a 13-8 deficit into a 16-14 lead in the opening set. White had two kills in that run although Boise State also suffered from four hitting errors. Bronco left-sider Sierra Nobley struck back-to-back kills to bring her team back to a 23-22 lead, then two more strikes gave BSU set points of 24-23 and 25-24. However, White exploded for four kills in the final five points to allow the Aggies to snipe the first-set victory.

However, the Aggie offense cooled from a .378 average in the opener to just .044 on nine hitting errors in the second. Boise State led wire-to-wire, getting another six kills from Nobley and nine digs from libero Maddi Osburn. The Broncos largely took control thanks to a run of seven unanswered that set the board at 22-11.

Rockas provided a boost through the middle section of the third set, scoring a kill and a service ace as part of a 5-0 run that turned UC Davis' 11-13 hole into a 16-13 lead. Defensively, the Aggies also held the Broncos to just nine kills and a .135 success rate. Setter Maddie Merlino, who teamed with Ohiri on a block in the earlier run, put down a pair of kills down the stretch to give the Aggies the match lead.

While UC Davis' momentum briefly carried into the fourth, Boise State seized control throughout a dominant fourth-set performance. The Broncos had six blocks in a 16-6 start to the set, and held a commanding 24-12 set point after consecutive Nobley kills. Sophomore Jackie Graves came off the bench for three straight blocks as the Aggies clawed their way to a 6-0 run. However, a White attempt barely missed the back-left corner, giving BSU the 25th point and forcing the deciding set.

UC Davis led for almost the entirety of that fifth stanza. Karsseboom served up two aces while Rockas had a kill and a block in a 5-1 start. Boise State later closed to within a 7-6 margin before Ohiri's block assist and kill put the score back to 10-6. The Aggies held off another late charge before Karsseboom, Allen and Rockas delivered kills through the final stretch. 

The UC Davis Invitational, the team's first home tournament in five years, concludes on Saturday. Boise State and Portland State face off at 11 a.m., with UC Davis hosting Santa Clara for the tourney finale at 2 p.m. An all-tournament team and Most Valuable Player will be announced following that last 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.

Season and single-game tickets for all UC Davis fall sports are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at