Nov. 11, 2011
DAVIS, Calif. - Junior outside hitter Kayla Neto's 21st kill finished off Cal State Fullerton's comeback from a 2-0 match deficit to a 3-2 win over UC Davis in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Pavilion Friday night. The Titans won by scores of 18-25, 17-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-12.
The Aggies slip to 20-9 overall and 6-8 in conference. The Titans improve to 12-14 for the year and 7-7 in Big West play.
Five different UC Davis players tallied double-digit kills and an equal number had double-figure digs. Allison Whitson and Devon Damelio each posted 16 kills, Valerie Brain and Katie Denny each chipped in 12, while Betsy Sedlak added another 11. Defensively, Damelio led the Aggies with 19 digs, Caroline Mercado had 17, Kaitlyn Plum contributed 16, Whitson recorded 15 and Jenny Woolway notched another 10. Sedlak also tied her career high of nine blocks.
On the Fullerton end of the boxscore, Neto's 21 kills and 66 swings led all players. She and Leah Maurer combined for 108 of their team's 200 attempts, but senior right side Jennifer Edmond provided the added spark with 10-1-22 hitting, nearly all of which came in the three Titan wins. On the defensive end, libero Gabrielle Dewberry picked up a match-high 30 digs while Neto added another 20.
Remarkably, Fullerton never led in either of the first two sets. UC Davis pulled away midway in the opener, with Brain scoring two kills to extend a tight 8-7 battle to a 14-9 lead. The Aggies maintained at least a three-point lead the rest of the way, with Brain hitting an errorless 4-for-8 and Whitson providing five kills on 12 swings in the frame. Neto accounted for most of her team's offense with five kills on 18 attempts, but UC Davis hit .302 to Fullerton's .136 in the opener.
As in the first set, the Aggies never trailed in the second. Damelio powered her team with 7-for-10 attacking numbers in the frame, including two kills in a 6-2 start. Her fifth kill of the set made it 17-9 while her sixth kept the Titans at bay at 20-13. UC Davis managed a .310 average in the second set to claim a 2-0 match lead at the break.
However, the Titans turned the tables in the third, opening with three straight and a 7-3 start. Brain had back-to-back kills to equalize the frame at 13-13, the first of five ties in the set. UC Davis scored three straight to crack a 19-19 impasse into a 21-19 Aggie lead. But Bre Moreland later landed a solo block and a kill to help CSF score three of the next four, putting the TItans back on top with a 23-21 edge. Despite two more kills from Brain -- who shot 6-for-15 in the third -- Fullerton managed to close out proceedings with a two-point win.
Both teams battled closely in the fourth before Dewberry served up two aces in a fun of five straight Titan points, setting the board at 10-8 in their favor. Moreland later posted three kills in a 6-1 run, stretching the Fullerton lead to 16-10. The normally hard-hitting Neto used effective offspeed shots to help the Titans close out the fourth. She and Moreland combined for 12 kills to force the rubber set.
The Titans seized the lead for good on kills by Edmond and Ayana Whitaker, breaking a 4-4 tie into a 7-4 lead. UC Davis managed to clip the deficit to a single point when Sedlak's kill through the middle brought the score to 8-7, and a Fullerton antenna ball later made it 10-9. But the Aggies struggled through three straight attack errors, one of them on a Neto/Maurer block, handing the Titans a 14-9 match point. Sedlak scored her last kill then Whitson and Denny combined on a block to close the gap to three before Neto brought a close with her hard shot from the left pin.
UC Davis hit .229, 200 and .000 during the final three sets after managing better than .300 in the two wins. Oddly, the Aggies held the advantage in kills (68-64), errors (24-27) and blocks (10-7), but converted less than 50 percent of their side-out opportunities in the last two sets.
UC Davis hosts Long Beach State on Saturday night to complete its Big West weekend.