Anteaters spoil Aggies' hot start in Big West thriller

Sept. 29, 2017

Final Stats

DAVIS, Calif. - Freshman opposite Mahalia White posted a career-high 20 kills and junior libero Malia Bolko led all players with 26 digs, but UC Davis could not protect an early 2-0 match lead in falling in five sets, 15-28, 17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-12, to UC Irvine during Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Pavilion Friday night.

The Aggies slip to 8-8 for the year and 0-3 in league. The Anteaters continue their best start in program history by improving to 13-2 overall and 1-1 in Big West play.

White committed only four errors on 48 swings en route to a .333 average to lead the match offensively. She also contributed on four of UC Davis' 14 team blocks. Sophomore teammate Lauren Matias chipped in 16 kills and a .297 success rate. Junior middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri added seven blocks to go with her eight kills on offense.

For UCI, junior middle Idara Akpakpa posted 12 kills and hit .409, with Haley DeSales and Harlee Kekauoha adding 10 kills each. Kekauoha also served up four aces.

In fact, the serving game played a significant role in the match for both teams. The Aggies had 10 aces but also committed 13 errors from the stripe. The 'Eaters served up nine aces but also suffered from 14 service errors.

UC Davis' offense largely led the way in its first two wins, with White's 6-for-8 attacking chart leading a .522 efficiency rate in the opener. A 9-2 finished turned broke open a 16-16 tie into the 25-18 first-set win. Ohiri and Matias then combined for nine of the team's 15 kills in the Set 2 win, helping the Aggies compile a .423 average. Sophomore Jackie Graves also sparked a key run in that 25-17 victory. In her first trip to the service line in 2017, the political science major notched an ace. Graves struck again with another ace, capping a run of five unanswered UC Davis points.

A turning point in the entire match when UCI flipped an 8-4 deficit into a 12-9 lead early in the third. Junior Kylie Green ignited that run with a pair of aces, and Luna Tsujimoto recorded a rare libero kill when her down ball found a seam in the Aggie defense. UC Davis eventually battled back to a 19-19 tie, thanks to Ohiri's net play and the serving spark of junior Brianna Karsseboom. But Akpakpa provided a key block and a kill to help the Anteaters avoid the sweep.

The fourth and fifth sets proved equally competitive, as the two teams battled to 11 ties and traded leads a total of five times in the two UCI set wins. Tsujimoto collected six digs in each of the fourth and fifth to cool the Aggie offense. Kekauoha served up three consecutive aces to craft an 11-6 lead in the fourth, while junior Ali Koumelis scored on consecutive setter dumps in the fifth -- all of which proved pivotal in holding off UC Davis. Kekauoha finished the match with two points down the stretch, ending the marathon match.

The Aggies' 14 total blocks represents a season high, while the team's final .250 attack average is the highest since the Portland State match of the home UC Davis Invitational tournament back on September 8. Additionally, this was Bolko's eighth 20-dig match of the year, and her sixth in the last 10 matches.

UC Davis hosts CSUN and Long Beach State as part of a three-match homestand on October 5 and 7, respectively.

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