Nov. 16, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Senior outside hitter Allison Whitson hit a career-high 25 kills while sophomore middle blocker Katie Quinn hit .700, helping UC Davis hang on to a five-set victory over Cal State Northridge in a Big West Conference women's volleyball match at the Pavilion Friday night. The Aggies won by scores of 25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 23-25, 18-16.
UC Davis moves into third place in the conference standings, improving to 10-6 in Big West play and 16-13 overall. The win also clinches a winning season for the program. CSUN slips to 18-10 for the year and 9-6 in league matches.
Whitson tallied 15 of her match-high 25 games during the first two sets. Quinn hit a career-best 14 kills with no errors in 20 swings for the match. At one point, she was 12-0-14 and flirting with Kaersten Hill's 1996 school record of .813. Senior libero Caroline Mercado tied her career high of 27 digs, junior Devon Damelio had 12 kills with 11 digs and sophomore Victoria Lee had 11 kills and a .357 average. Another key highlight was redshirt freshman Holland Seymour, who stepped into the the fourth set to provide two kills and a block, nearly helping UC Davis overcome a 24-19 deficit. Senior Kaitlyn Plum lifted the Aggies defensively with 13 digs, including three in the fourth and four in the fifth set.
Mercado also hit a key career milestone as she pushed her collegiate digs total to 1,002. She becomes the seventh player to reach that pinnacle, and the first since Kayla Varney hit the mark early in the 2010 season.
Sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger hit 18 kills to lead four Matador players in double-figured offense. Junior Mahina Haina recorded 13 while Britney Graff and Cieana Stinson each added 10. Senior libero Cindy Ortiz scopped up 25 digs. Setter Siydney Gedryn posted seven kills and 10 digs to go with her 50 assists.
UC Davis hit .333 and .350 during the first two sets, never trailing in either frame. The Matadors had closed the gap to within 10-9 early in the first after scoring four of five points. But Whitson scored kills on a cross-court shot, a tip and a line smash during a run of five unanswered Aggie points to restore the margin to 14-9. Gedryn hit two kills in a 7-1 run to tie the set at 16-16. UC Davis finished strong, scoring 8 of the final 10 points in claiming the early match lead.
The Aggies continued to fire early in the second, with Lee scoring two kills and two block assists in a 6-1 start. Some tough serving from Gedryn forced two passes to drift over the net, and Sam Kaul put down both to close the gap to 7-6. The Matadors eventually tied the frame at 10-10 on a tool by Hinger, but Whitson and Lee each had a kill and a block in a 4-1 run to give UC Davis the lead for good. Whitson finished with seven kills in the second, Lee was 4-0-6 offensively and Mercado notched seven digs as the Aggies went to the break with a 2-0 lead.
Despite a 4-2 Aggie start to the third, Northridge seized control at the service line on key occasions, forcing UC Davis' transition to slip from a 69.2 side-out conversion to a 45.8 rate in the third. Kaul contributed on consecutive blocks to push the Matadors to a 14-10 lead, in large part due to Ortiz' tough jump serving. Although the Aggies managed to creep to within two points on three occasions down the stretch, CSUN never surrendered its lead. Hinger posted a block assist and a kill while Alia Casino served up an ace in their team's 8-3 finish.
The Matadors continued to build a head of steam through the fourth, scoring points in nearly every possible way -- a service error, blocking error, ace, kill and block -- in a 7-3 start. Two additional hitting miscues forced the Aggies to call a timeout with an 18-10 deficit, then Gedryn and Hinger teamed up for a block to bump the lead to as much as 20-11. UC Davis slowly chipped away down the stretch as Seymour provided a spark off the bench. She joined Lee on a block during a 5-1 comeback run that brought the score to 23-19. Seymour hit two kills to fend off a 24-20 quadruple set point before Stinson ended the UC Davis threat with her kill from the right pin, finishing a 25-23 set win and forcing the fifth stanza.
The two teams battled to six ties before Kaul, Gedryn and Graff scored successive kills in a 3-0 to put the Matadors up to an 11-8 lead. Quinn knocked down an errant overpass and Damelio scored a cross-court kill to bring UC Davis back to within one. However, Graff fired a shot through the Aggie block to up the tally to 12-10 then delivered a smash across the tape to put CSUN up by a 13-11 lead. Quinn and Whitson responded with kills to tie the set yet again, this time at 13-13.
Another Gedryn dump gave the Matadors a 14-13 match point but Lee's smashed a one set to tie the frame at 14-14. Hinger and Whitson traded tools to make it 15-15. Yet another Gedryn dump lifted CSUN to a 16-15 lead before Damelio's cross-court missile tied the set for a 10th time. The Matadors finally yielded, hitting a shot into the net and another long, sending the victory over to UC Davis.
Quinn's .700 performance is the highest since Betsy Sedlak compiled the same hitting average against Utah early in the 2010 season.
UC Davis hosts seventh-ranked Hawai'i for its home finale on Saturday night. The team will also honor seniors Whitson, Mercado and Plum after the match.