RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Redshirt freshman Aima Eichie and senior Valerie Brain each contributed on seven of their team's 16 total blocks, while junior outside hitter Kaylin Squyres led the attacking game with 14 kills, boosting UC Davis to a 25-16, 25-16, 25-22 sweep of UC Riverside in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the SRC Arena Saturday night.
The Aggies, winners of three straight, improve to 8-3 in conference and 13-11 overall. The Highlanders fall to 2-21 for the season and remain winless in Big West play at 0-11.
Squyres committed only two hitting errors with that match-high kills total to finish with a .375 hitting average. She also delivered a match-high 18 digs for her 15th double-double of the year.
Senior middle blocker Katie Quinn went 6-for-11 while chipping in another six block assists to the Aggie net game. Sophomore opposite Kendall Walbrecht provided another six blocks. Three came from senior middle blocker Victoria Lee, a two-time All-Big West honoree who made her season debut after a long recovery from offseason surgery. The 16 total blocks is the most by a UC Davis team since setting a school record 18 against Sonoma State at the end of the 2000 season -- the last year before college volleyball switched from side-out scoring to a 30-point, rally-scoring format.
Junior Ashley Cox tallied 11 kills on 32 attempts to lead UCR offensively, while sophomore libero Maddie Hubbell picked up 16 digs to pace the floor defense. However, the Aggies' net play held the Highlanders to just .051 hitting, the lowest by a UC Davis opponent since UC Santa Barbara managed just .020 back on October 4.
UC Davis never trailed in either of its first two set wins. In the opener, Quinn posted four blocks in a 9-2 run that helped the Aggies break from a one-goal margin to a 14-6 edge. The Highlanders quickly responded with five unanswered, including three kills from sophomore opposite Cristina Maietta, to cut the deficit to 14-11. They later closed the gap to two points on two separate occasions. However, UC Davis scored nine of the last 11 points to close out the first set. Eichie scored two kills, Squyres and senior libero Megan Lancaster each served up aces, while Quinn put down her fifth block in that final stretch.
Riverside managed to tie the second set twice in the early going, equalizing at 5-5 on a Maietta kill. However, two attacking errors and a Squyres ace gave the Aggies three straight to take the lead for good. The reigning Big West Conference Player of the Week continued to roll offensively, adding three more kills to stretch a tight 11-9 advantage to 17-11 edge. Walbrecht also held the Highlanders at bay with her attacking game, putting down three additional kills to help maintain at least a five-point margin. UC Davis scored three straight to close out the second: Quinn converted a side-out kill to put herself on the service line, Eichie and Squyres teamed up for a block against freshman Alex Gresham at the middle of the tape for set point, then Squyres found an empty spot in the UCR defense on a roll shot for the 25th point.
The combination of Squyres, Quinn, Walbrecht and Brain went into the break with a combined 23 kills and just three errors for a .455 average.
Unlike the previous two sets, UC Davis fell into a hole early in the third. Cox scored two kills to help UCR forge a 7-4 lead, then maintained a small cushion until junior Holland Seymour equalized at 12-12 with her blast from the 10-foot line. The Highlanders responded with a Gresham kill and a service ace from Helena Peric before Eichie's kill and block assist tied up the stanza at 14-14. The Aggies finally took their first lead of the third set during a 3-0 run that made it 18-15: Maietta missed wide on a swing, Walbrecht and Lee stuffed a Cox tip, then Lee took advantage of a down-ball opportunity.
The net game figured heavily in the final stretch of the third. Lee combined with Seymour and Brain on two different block assists to set UC Davis to a 22-17 lead. UCR freshman Meg Graham scored a solo block when the Aggies failed to cover her won joust, then she and outside hitter Bri Holmes teamed up for a block at 23-22, sending UC Davis to a timeout to regroup. Squyres delivered the final two points to complete the 3-0 sweep.
Seymour, who came off the bench in the second and third sets, finished with a career-high nine digs.
The Aggies return home for four straight matches at the Pavilion, starting with a Thursday night tilt against Cal State Fullerton. Match time is 7 p.m.