Oct. 29, 2011
DAVIS, Calif. - Sophomore opposite Devon Damelio slammed a career-best 21 kills and hit .400 while three other Aggies set or tied career highs, helping UC Davis claim a five-set, 19-25, 30-28, 25-18, 23-25, 15-8 victory over Cal Poly in a Big West Conference women's volleyball match in front of 440 Saturday night at the Pavilion.
The Aggies improve to 20-6 for the year and 6-5 on conference, clinching the second 20-win season in head coach Jamie Holmes' young career at the university. The Mustangs fall to 10-14 overall and 5-6 in Big West play.
Damelio committed just three errors in 45 attempts for the match, besting her previous kills high by six. Senior middle blocker Betsy Sedlak matched her own lifetime best of 19 kills, compiling a .372 hitting average. She was particularly effective in the fifth and deciding set, hitting 4-for-6 in the frame including three kills in the first four points. Junior libero Caroline Mercado picked up 23 digs, again tying a career high; while junior outside hitter Allison Whitson matched her collegiate best of 19 digs to supplement 17 kills.
Other highlights included sophomore Jenny Woolway, who collected 58 assists and tied Whitson with 19 digs while providing 5-for-9 offense of her own. Junior Kaitlyn Plum provided 11 digs on floor defense. Reserves Megan Lancaster and Victoria Lee also lifted UC Davis at key points during the match. Lancaster earned five digs, Lee hit 2-for-3 in a fourth-set relief appearance.
For Cal Poly, junior middle blocker Jennifer Keddy led all players with 25 kills. Junior Molly Pon, a Davis High product performing in front of a hometown crowd, hit 20 kills en route to a .400 average. Senior Catie Smith led five Mustangs with double-digit digs, picking up 16 along the way.
Cal Poly shined on both ends of the attacking game in the first set, hitting .333 on 18 kills on offense while neutralizing UC Davis with 23 digs on floor defense. Kristina Graven tallied three of her six kills in a 9-2 run that helped the Mustangs to a 19-12 edge. She finished the frame with six kills, one behind junior middle blocker Jennifer Keddy.
However, the second set proved to be UC Davis' turn to frustrate the opposing offense: the Aggies tallied 27 digs, with seven by Woolway and another six from Damelio. Sedlak scored back-to-back kills to propel UC Davis to a 14-10 lead, but the Mustangs eventually cut the deficit to a single tick on five occasions before tying the set at 23-23. The two teams battled to five more ties, with Whitson recording three kills in that span. She eventually unloaded a strong crosscourt kill to bring the score to 28-28. Woolway dumped a shot into the open court for set point, then Damelio delivered a kill well off tape for the winner. Damelio and Sedlak each had five kills on 11 attempts in the second.
UC Davis led wire-to-wire in the third set, powering away for 15 kills and just one error for a .341 hitting average. After a 17-10 start, Cal Poly managed to cut away with three straight points, bringing the tally to 17-13. But redshirt freshman Valerie Brain scored two kills in a run of three unanswered Aggie points, restoring the margin to 20-13. Whitson hit an errorless 6-for-11 in the third with Brain adding 4-0-11 attacking numbers.
Undeterred by the Aggies' dominant third, the Mustangs came out fighting in the fourth. Keddy had three kills and Graven added two in a 7-3 start. Keddy then scored her 20th kill of the match to make it 14-8 in Cal Poly's favor, then added back-to-back winners to stretch the lead to 17-8. Sedlak hammered three straight kills to bring UC Davis back to a five-point deficit, but a Pon kill later pushed the Mustangs back to a 20-15 lead.
In eerily similar fashion to the Aggies' Friday win over UC Santa Barbara, in which they came back from a 20-14 deficit to take the fourth set, UC Davis recovered from a 20-15 hole to just a one-point deficit: Damelio's tool made it 21-19 and Brain's kill on a Mustang free ball cut it to 21-20. Unlike UCSB, however, Cal Poly held off the late Aggie charge. Pon and Megan McConnell teamed up on a block to establish a 24-22 triple set point. Two points later, Keddy scored her 25th kill to force a fifth set.
Sedlak then set the tone in the fifth set, taking advantage of two tough Katie Denny serves to score the first two kills. Denny's ace brought the score to 3-0, then a third Sedlak kill completed a side out for a 4-1 edge on the Mustangs. UC Davis never looked back from this start, with Brain firing three kills in a 5-1 run to make it 10-5. Whitson ended a scrambling point with a kill at 12-7 then teamed with Sedlak on a block for the 13th point. Finally, Damelio and Sedlak finished the job with consecutive kills to close out the match.
UC Davis improves to 5-1 in five-set matches. Furthermore, the Aggies set season-best marks in kills (80), attempts (214) and receive percentage (one error in 98 passes for 99 percent). They return to action on the road at Cal State Northridge on Friday.