Nov. 3, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. -
Aggie outside hitter Allison Whitson pounded out 19 kills and a .356 average but UC Davis was unable to overcome Long Beach State's diverse offense, falling in four sets during Big West Conference women's volleyball action Saturday night at the Pavilion. The 49ers won by scores of 25-20, 28-26, 21-25 and 25-15.
The Aggies flip to 13-13 overall and 7-6 in Big West play. The Beach moves to 13-11 for the year and 8-5 in conference.
Whitson committed just three errors in 45 total attempts while providing 13 digs on floor defense. Junior Devon Damelio added 13 kills with an ace, sophomore Valerie Brain provided another 10 kills with nine digs and sophomore middle Katie Quinn finished with an 8-3-16 attacking line for a .312 average. Senior Kaitlyn Plum was a bright spot for the Aggies, tallying 13 digs - just one behind libero Caroline Mercado for the team lead.
For LBSU, Janisa Johnson's 19 kills led four 49ers with double-figured offense. Chisom Okapa had 16 kills and a .351 attack rate, Bre Mackie tallied 12 kills with a .526 clip and Alex Reid came off the bench to turn in another 10 kills. Johnson, who hit .304 of her own, led all players with 25 digs.
Both teams battled closely during the first two sets but Long Beach State managed strong finishes in each to come away with a 2-0 match lead at the break. In the opener, UC Davis recovered from an early 7-4 deficit to take a 10-9 lead when Whitson's back-to-back kills sparked a 3-0 run. Brain's cross-court kill later made it 12-11, but the 49ers responded with four straight. Tiara Wallace had two kills and Johnson served up an ace to push LBSU to a 15-12 lead. Whitson, who had seven kills in the first set, knocked down her sixth to tie the frame at 18-18. However, LBSU scored seven of the final nine. Okpala scored a solo block then hit a successful tip to ignite the final flourish.
Damelio fired a kill down the line and Whitson sent a shot across the tape to help UC Davis to four unanswered points in taking a 10-7 lead in the second. The Beach later assembled a 4-1 run to tie the set at 13-13, but Brain's tool and Lindsay Dowd's
service ace restored the Aggie lead to 15-13. Brain later posted a kill and a solo stuff to put UC Davis up by a 23-20 margin, only to have Mackie pound away for three straight kills, tying the set at 23-23. The 49ers fought off three straight set points before Johnson's two kills closed out the win. She scored the winner when LBSU successfully covered an Aggie block attempt. Johnson sent a kill over the net on a second-contact ball, scoring her 11th kill of the second set alone.
UC Davis regrouped in the third to hold off a 49er sweep. Victoria Lee tallied a kill and a block assist with setter Jenny Woolway in crafting an 8-5 lead although Long Beach answered with three straight points to tie the set. Okpala teamed with Wallace and Johnson on consecutive block assists to give the 49ers a 12-11 lead but Quinn's two kills highlighted a 6-1 UC Davis run that put the Aggies back up by a 17-13 margin. Although the Beach closed the gap to a single point on three occasions, UC Davis never relinquished its lead the rest of the way. A shot into the tape and a roll shot that fell short sent the final two points to the Aggies. Quinn was an errorless 4-for-5 while Plum had five digs in the third set.
Despite their late stumble in the third set, the 49ers regrouped in a dominating fourth set. They improved from .098 hitting to a .429 clip and converted 81 percent of their side-out opportunities, leading wire-to-wire. Okpala had two kills and a block in a 7-3 start. Then after UC Davis managed to battle back to within an 11-9 deficit, Okpala struck again with back-to-back kills, doubling the edge to four. Johnson had two kills and setter Tara Roenicke served up an ace in another 3-0 run that put the board at 16-10 in LBSU's favor. The Aggies never approached by closer than five for the remainder of the match. Okpala posted two more kills - finishing 6-0-13 in the fourth - to help close out the frame.
Oddly, UC Davis enjoyed its best hitting in the first- and second-set losses, hitting a respective .350 and .286 in those games. Long Beach State countered with 40 total kills and a .375 average in the 2-0 start while succeeding on 34 of 47 side-out chances (72.3 percent).
The Aggies return to the road for the Central Coast section of the Big West slate, taking on Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday the following weekend.