Aggies Hang On In Five-Set Thriller

Allison Whitson's 23 digs surpassed her previous best of 19, set twice in 2011.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)

Sept. 28, 2012

Final Stats

DAVIS, Calif. - Junior Devon Damelio tallied a team-leading 18 kills while senior Allison Whitson added 15 kills and a career-high 23 digs to help UC Davis hold on to a five-set win over UC Riverside in Big West Conference women's volleyball action Friday night. The Aggies prevailed by scores of 25-18, 25-15, 17-25, 23-25 and 15-11.

UC Davis improves to 8-7 overall and remains unbeaten in conference play at 2-0. UCR slips to 5-11 on the year, 0-3 in Big West matches.

Whitson also figured heavily in her team's fifth-set win, scoring four of the final five points. Additionally, the Aggies also enjoyed pin contributions from sophomore Valerie Brain, who tallied nine kills with just one hitting error. The sophomore middle blocker tandem of Victoria Lee and Katie Quinn continued their recent production trend, combining for 14 kills and .344 hitting. Senior libero Caroline Mercado posted 13 digs with two service aces while defensive specialist Kaitlyn Plum had 10 digs and an ace.

For the Highlanders, freshman Ashley Cox led all players with 24 kills and 66 swings. Senior libero Megan Patterson overcame some early passing woes to record 35 digs, while outside hitter Amanda Vialpando posted a double-double of 18 kills and 14 digs.

UC Davis steamrolled its way through the first two sets, claiming a 2-0 match lead in just 45 minutes on the court. Damelio had five kills to lead the Aggies to a .394 hitting average in the first set. She had two such kills in a run of five unanswered, crafting a 13-8 lead. UC Davis maintained a cushion of at least four points the rest of the way.



Then in the second, Riverside suffered from 10 attacking errors and hit minus-.068 overall. Mercado served up most of a 9-1 run that put the Aggies in front by a 12-6 margin. Junior setter Jenny Woolway had six digs in the second, including four in a long, scrambling rally that set the board at 16-8 in UC Davis' favor. The Highlanders failed to string more than two points together for the remainder of the set.

However, UCR took control out of the break as Cox hammered out four kills in an 8-3 start to the third. She finished with an 8-2-15 attacking line during a set in which the Highlanders never trailed. Vialpando, Annishia McKoy and Jasmin White added four kills each, helping UCR amass astounding numbers of 21 kills and a .486 success rate.

White hit an errorless 5-for-8 in the fourth set, including two kills in Riverside's 7-3 start. But Damelio answered with back-to-back kills and teamed up with Lee for a block to help UC Davis battle back to a 10-10 tie, the first of 14 deadlocks in the penultimate set. The Aggies nearly put themselves in position to close out the match in four, taking a 23-21 lead when Whitson stuffed an attempted tip by UCR setter Emily Borges. But the Highlanders scored four straight points to finish the frame. Cox ended the run with her 20th kill of the match, then White and sophomore Tyler Dorsey combined on a block for the equalizer at 23-23. Borges' serve edged over the net for an ace, then UC Davis sent a swing into the antenna for the 25th Highlander point, forcing the fifth set.

The Aggies converted 8 of 11 side-out opportunities in the final set, committing just one error on offense after suffering eight in the fourth. After four tie scores, Brain joined Lee on a block assist to give UC Davis an 8-7 lead. When a Vialpando kill brought Riverside to within a 10-9 margin, Whitson accounted for four of the Aggies' final five points of the match. Her cut shot eluded an attempted pancake dig at 11-9, she teamed with Quinn on two blocks for the 12th and 13th points, and her jump serve froze the UCR passing corps for an ace, giving UC Davis a 14-10 match point. Brain knocked down the winner two serves later.

Whitson's double-double marked her ninth of the year. Her previous digs best had been 19, set at Northern Colorado and against Cal Poly during her junior season.

UC Davis returns to action on Saturday night for a Big West match against Cal State Fullerton. Match time is 7 p.m.