Oct. 19, 2013
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Despite a combined 33 kills and better than .400 hitting from the combination of senior opposite Devon Damelio and junior middle blocker Katie Quinn, UC Davis was unable to hold on to a 2-1 match lead, losing in five sets to UC Santa Barbara in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Thunderdome Saturday night. The hosts won by set scores of 25-20, 20-25, 16-25, 25-20 and 15-11.
The Aggies slip to 11-9 for the year and 3-4 in league matches. The Gauchos, winners of five straight, improve to 10-8 overall and 5-1 in Big West play.
Damelio led UC Davis with 18 kills against just three errors on 39 swings for a .385 average. She also had a team-leading 17 digs on floor defense while notching seven block assists at the net. Quinn hit 15-3-27 for a .444 clip while leading the Aggies with nine stuffs. Junior middle Victoria Lee offered up nine kills and a .389 average, while junior libero Megan Lancaster contributed three aces and 15 digs.
For UCSB, senior outside hitter Leah Sully hit an errorless 9-for-14 with a match-high 25 digs while senior opposite Katey Thompson posted 12 kills and 10 blocks. As a team, the Gauchos totaled 17 blocks to the Aggies' 14. Thompson (one solo, nine assists), freshman Phoebe Grunt (eight assists) and freshman Allie Sullberg (seven assists) did the bulk of the damage at the tape.
Thompson and sophomore left-sider Ali Barbeau each tallied two kills in a 7-0 run that helped the Gauchos break away to a 16-7 lead midway through the first. UCSB hit .387 for the frame, holding at least an eight-point lead before Lancaster's two aces helped the Aggies scrap from a 24-14 set point to 24-20 deficit. Barbeau finally converted the side out to end UC Davis' run to six unanswered and deliver the opening win to UCSB.
Another Gaucho freshman, Ali Spindt, powered her team to a 10-7 lead in the second behind four kills and an ace. The Aggies responded with four straight to forge an 11-10 lead, getting a pair of Lee blocks in that stretch. Spindt scored two more kills in a 4-1 rejoinder that pushed UCSB back to a 14-12 edge. Freshman Allie Wegener and Damelio scored back-to-back kills to equalize at 14-14. The two teams battled to three more ties before senior Lindsay Dowd's service ace highlighted another 4-1 run down the stretch. Brain and Lee put down two more shots to shut the door on the second, and the teams went to the break with a 1-1 match score.
Save for a Thompson kill on the first point, UC Davis never trailed in its dominating third-set win thanks to strong net defense. The Gauchos committed nine hitting errors - eight of which were the results of Aggie blocks. Quinn and Wegener teamed up for a stuff as part of a 6-2 start, Damelio and Lee combined for one to end a brief Gaucho comeback at 12-9, Quinn added three more to extend the Aggie lead to 21-14, then Damelio and Lee joined forces for the 24th and 25th points.
The UCSB offense found its stride in the fourth, totaling 15 kills with just one error en route to a .483 average. Sully, who hit nine kills during the final two sets, served up an ace during a 4-1 Gaucho start. Quinn later struck on back-to-back kills to equalize at 6-6 but UCSB answered with a 9-2 run that set the board at 15-8. The Aggies managed to shorten the deficit to four points on seven occasions after that run but never pulled any closer. Damelio hit 7-1-10 in the fourth set. However, the Gauchos countered that with their hitting efficiency, three aces and five blocks.
UC Davis and UCSB battled to four ties before a 3-0 run gave the Gauchos an 8-5 lead at the changeover in the fifth. The Aggies fought back to within a single-point deficit with a Valerie Brain kill and a Gaucho hitting error, before Spindt scored a block and a kill during a stretch of four straight, setting the board to 12-7. UCSB stumbled briefly, missing on a pair of attacking errors and serving a ball wide, allowing UC Davis back to just a 13-11 deficit. However, Thompson's offspeed shot righted the ship for a 14-11 match point. Sully put down the winner on a four set near the antenna.
This is the fifth time these two teams have battled to five sets in the past four seasons. UCSB has won three after UC Davis claimed the first two marathon matches. Furthermore, the 31 combined blocks are the most for an Aggie match since UC Davis and UC Riverside had 36.5 in a four-setter on October 5, 2007.
The Aggies return home for three straight Big West Conference matches in the Pavilion, starting with defending champ Hawai'i on Saturday.