Oct. 5, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Senior outside hitter Allison Whitson recorded a match-high 20 kills with 16 digs but UC Davis was unable to hold off Long Beach State after the first set, losing 19-25, 25-19, 25-22 and 25-19 in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Walter Pyramid Friday night.
The Aggies slip to 8-9 overall and 2-2 in Big West matches. The 49ers improve to 8-8 for the year and 3-2 in conference play.
Whitson's double-double marked her fourth straight and 11th for the season. Senior libero Caroline Mercado led all players with 20 digs while defensive specialist Kaitlyn Plum added 12 digs with an ace. UC Davis got 20 combined kills from outside hitters Devon Damelio (11) and Valerie Brain (9). Sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee posted a match-leading seven blocks, all in the first two sets.
For Long Beach State, sophomore middle Chisom Okpala amassed 14 kills and hit .355. Delainey Aigner-Swesey matched Okpala's kills total while senior Janisa Johnson had 15. Five 49er players totaled double-figured digs: Libby Fontanilla with 19, Johnson and Aigner-Swesey with 15 each, Tara Roenicke with 13 and Tyler Jackson with 12.
UC Davis opened strong, never trailing in the first set. Lee tallied two block assists to help the Aggies to a 5-1 start, then tallied a kill to further a run of three straight points en route to a 9-2 lead. The 49ers answered with a 3-0 run of their own to cut the lead to five, only to have Whitson and Katie Quinn each fire out two kills and a block in restoring the UC Davis advantage to 14-6. The Beach managed to close the gap to five on four separate occasions but never approached any closer in the first set. Whitson struck for two more kills and senior Kaitlyn Plum served up an ace to help the Aggies take the initial match lead.
In contrast to the first set, the Aggies never held the lead in the second. A pair of UC Davis hitting errors prompted head coach Jamie Holmes to call a timeout with her team trailing, 12-6. Later in the frame, freshman Tiara Wallace hit two of four straight 49er kills to stretch the lead to 16-8. Whitson later sparked a run of four answered to help the Aggies to within a 19-17 deficit, but Aigner-Swesey tallied a solo block and a kill to give LBSU a 23-18 edge. The 49ers finished off the set with a combined block between Wallace and Bre Mackie, dropping the Aggies' hitting average from a serviceable .209 in the first set to just .068 in the second.
The Long Beach offense continued to gain steam after the break, combining for 17 kills and .361 hitting in the three-point third set. Okpala posted a kill and a block in her team's 6-2 start, then had three more kills in a 5-0 run that sent the 49ers to a 16-9 lead later in the stanza. Damelio, who struggled in the first two sets, caught fire down the stretch in almost single-handedly bringing a 20-12 deficit to just a 23-21 margin. But Okpala and Mackie teamed up for a block to establish set point and Janisa knocked down the winner two serves later. Damelio finished with seven kills in the third set alone.
Okpala broke up a 6-6 tie with three kills in a 6-0 span that gave the Beach the lead for good. Aigner-Swesey later hit back-to-back kills to put the score at 16-9 in the 49ers' favor, while a UC Davis serving error and attack error helped maintain that cushion at 20-13. Whitson and Damelio each posted kills and sophomore Katie Quinn notched a solo stuff to close the gap to 21-17. Another Quinn kill kept the Aggies in the hunt at 22-18, but Aigner-Swesey delivered three kills down the stretch to help LBSU finish in four.
UC Davis continues its Big West Conference weekend with a match at UC Irvine on Saturday