UC Davis outlasts UCR in Colberg tribute match

Junior libero Malia Bolko ranks fourth on the school season list for digs, fourth on the career leaderboard. (Wayne Tilcock, AggiePhoto.com)
Nov. 4, 2017

Final Stats

DAVIS, Calif. - Junior outside hitter Brianna Karsseboom led three Aggie hitters in double-digit offense, junior libero Malia Bolko paced all floor defenders with 24 digs, and junior middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri contributed on eight blocks, helping UC Davis complete a five-set, 17-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-18, 15-4 win over UC Riverside in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Pavilion Saturday night.

The Aggies improve to 15-11 overall and 7-6 in Big West play, holding fourth place in the conference standings. The Highlanders slip to 9-14 for the year and 1-10 in league matches.

Karsseboom and freshman Mahalia White finished 1-2 in kills for the second straight match, this time posting totals of 14 and 13 respectively. Junior Emily Allen added another 12. Ohiri's net play helped toward a team total of 15 blocks, with another six each from junior Lauren Jackson and sophomore Jackie Graves. Jackson also hit 8-1-14 for a .500 average.

Karsseboom supplemented her offensive output with 11 digs and four blocks, while junior setter Maddie Merlino tallied six service aces, 11 digs and two block assists.

For UCR, sophomore Mickayla Sherman recorded 16 kills and 16 digs while junior outside hitter Kaiulani Ahuna delivered 13 kills and a pair of aces.

UC Riverside took control early in the first set, with Ahuna serving up both of her aces in an 11-6 start. Overall, the Highlanders opened for 10 kills and just two errors in crafting a 16-9 lead. Ohiri and Graves combined for two blocks to help close the gap to 18-15, but UC Davis could not erase the early deficit. Ahuna finished with seven kills on 12 swings in the opener, while her Highlander team outdug the Aggies by a 14-7 margin.

The Aggie defense rebounded in the second, with Bolko scooping up five digs and three team blocks holding UCR to an efficiency rate of just .083. UC Davis broke for an 8-3 start until a brief stumble allowed the Highlanders to equalize at 10-10. An errant shot gave UCR its first lead of the frame at 12-11, and the two teams continued to trade blows to a 14-14 deadlock. Then Graves and Jackson teamed for two stuffs in an 8-0 run that left the Aggies up by a 22-14 margin. Karsseboom's tool established a 24-17 let point, then a lift call against UCR closed the set and evened the match at 1-1.

UC Davis appeared prime to take the match lead when it led as late as 17-11. But a Fabiana Rosas solo block sparked a late run that resulted in UCR taking a 23-22 lead. Merlino gave the Aggies a 24-23 set point on her ace, but a pair of wide shots put the Highlanders back on top by a 25-24 set point of their own. Jackson scored a kill after Allen covered a block to hold the frame at 25-25. Then UCR answered with back-to-back: Rosas' kill down the line for the 26th point, and setter Chelsea Doyle's ace for the winner.

As they had in the third, the Aggies held a slight lead for most of the fourth before UCR mounted a comeback. An Aggie shot into the tape provided the Highlanders their first edge of 13-12. Allen and Jackson each scored kills in a 4-0 run to restore the UC Davis lead to 16-13, only to have UCR fight back to a 17-17 lead. This time, the Aggies held strong down the stretch, blasting away for an 8-1 finish to the set. Merlino had two more aces in that final flourish, with Ohiri sending back a stray down ball for the 25th.

The Aggies' 8-1 finish to the fourth added up to a 23-5 run when including the 15-4 fifth frame. Jackson hit 3-for-3 toward her team's 7-0-10 attacking line in the rubber set. Merlino and sophomore Lauren Matias served up aces, the latter in a 6-0 run that also featured consecutive kills by Allen.

Bolko's defensive effort brings her season digs total to 497, and her career total to 1,375. She now moves into third on the UC Davis season list, needing seven to surpass Avreeta Singh for second. The school record belongs to Nichole Brown, who amassed 526 digs in her lone season as an Aggie. Bolko also sits within striking range of fourth on the career list, just 20 behind Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Famer Candy Lench (1989-92).

Saturday's match also began an annual event of honoring Gary Colberg, the former UC Davis director of sports clubs and intramurals who also enjoyed an illustrious career as a volleyball official. Colberg passed away in July of 2016. He is the namesake of the Gary J. Colberg Endowment for the UC Davis men's volleyball club.

The Aggies return to action for their annual Central Coast road trip at Cal Poly (Friday) and UC Santa Barbara (Saturday).

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 UCDavisAggies.com.