Sept. 23, 2010
STOCKTON, Calif. - Junior middle blocker Katie Denny's tip fell into the open Tiger court to complete UC Davis' comeback from a 9-3 deficit in wild five-set victory over Pacific in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Alex Spanos Center on Thursday. Sophomore Allison Whitson scord 18 kills against just four errors as the Aggies won by set scores of 25-22, 25-16, 20-25, 13-25 and 16-14.
UC Davis improves to 9-4 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Pacific dips to 7-5 for the season and begins its Big West slate at 0-1.
Whitson and Denny were two of four Aggies with double-figured offense. Denny had 10 kills with one error, while freshman Morgan Borch and senior Melanie Adams tallied 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Senior libero Kayla Varney picked up 22 digs, with freshman setter Jenny Woolway right behind with a career-high 19. Additionally, the Aggies totaled 11.0 blocks in net defense, with senior Betsy Sedlak leading the way with eight stuffs.
For the Tigers, senior veteran Svenja Engelhardt knocked down 17 kills with junior outside hitter Samantha Misa posted a double-double of 13 kills and 11 digs.
Whitson hit five kills on 10 attempts in the Aggies' first-set win. UC Davis took the lead immediately on back-to-back block assists by Sedlak and Borch, then capitalized on three Tiger errors to massage the edge to 10-4. Pacific managed to close the gap to two points on four different occasions, including 23-21 on Gabby Cowden's kill through the middle. Engelhardt's tool brought the UC Davis lead to its thinnest point, 23-22, but the Aggies finished off the opener with two straight points.
In the second set, Adams hit two kills and served up an ace amidst a 10-2 run that helped UC Davis pull from a close 11-10 advantage to a decisive 21-12 lead. Whitson later sent a ball to the opposite corner and Borch slammed down a perfect 4-set to put the tally at 23-13. Pacific delivered the Aggies their final two points on a hitting error and serving error. Whitson again led UC Davis offensively with 5-for-8 hitting, while Woolway had 13 assists to go with seven digs on defense.
The Tigers came out firing after the break, as Samantha Misa fired three of her six third-set kills in a 10-4 Pacific start. Borch and Adams put down three straight kills to help the Aggies cut the lead to 10-7, but the Tigers responded with five straight points to stretch their edge to eight. Borch hit back-to-back kills and a Hannah Clancy error allowed UC Davis to approach to a 24-19 deficit, but an Aggie overpass fell shy of the net. Pacifc held off the sweep and forced the fourth.
Although the Tigers took the early edge, neither team surrendered much ground early in the fourth set. Denny's kill on a one-set cut the Pacific lead to 13-11 midway through the frame. However, Misa hit two kills and Engelhardt served up a pair of aces in a run of eight unanswered Tiger points. Misa added her fifth and sixth kills of the frame down the final stretch and Jennifer Sanders posted a solo stuff to boost Pacific to the 25-13 win. The Tigers hit .481 in the fourth set, compared to the Aggies .129, to force the rubber set.
The Tigers jumped to a 6-2 lead in the fifth, as Engelhardt posted kills on either side of the net and UC Davis continued to struggle offensively. Freshman Megan Birch's tip nudged the lead to 7-2, then Birch struck again with a solo block to give Pacific an 8-2 advantage at the changeover. Then the Aggies regrouped, scoring eight of the next nine points. Sedlak contributed on three blocks, helping trim the Tiger lead to just 10-9. Adams equalized on a shot from the right pin, then Whitson gave UC Davis the 11-10 lead on a cross-court shot from the left side.
The teams traded three more ties before Denny's kill through the Pacific back row provided the Aggies with a 14-13 match point. Engelhardt responded with her 17th kill, knotting the score at 14-all. Whitson converted the side out with a shot down the line, forcing a Tiger ball-handling error; then Denny's tip gave UC Davis its two-point set victory and match win.
The Tiger offense improved from efficiency rates of .043 and .118 in the first two sets to a combined .362 in the third- and fourth-set victories. UC Davis hit as high as .414 in the second, but managed only nine kills in the fourth as the Pacific serving game kicked in.
The Aggies continue south for more Big West Conference action at UC Riverside on Saturday.