IRVINE, Calif. - Senior outside hitter Kaylin Squyres totaled a match-high 21 kills, sophomore middle blocker Aima Eichie hit .476 overall and redshirt freshman middle Kelechi Ohiri contributed on nine of her team’s 13 blocks, helping UC Davis capture a five-set win over UC Irvine in Big West Conference women’s volleyball action at the Bren Event Center. The Aggies won by set scores of 25-23, 16-25, 25-18, 15-25 and 15-9.UC Davis improves to 14-15 overall and 9-6 in league play. UC Irvine slips to 12-15 for the year and 6-9 in Big West matches, losing its chance to catch the Aggies in the conference standings.
Eichie posted 11 kills with only one error en route to her team-leading hitting rate. Junior Kendall Walbrecht added 12 kills on 32 swings while freshman Emily Allen notched eight kills, three aces and a team-best 18 digs. Squyres added 16 digs while freshman libero Malia Bolko chipped in another 14.
For the Anteaters, freshman opposite Harlee Kekauoha posted a double-double of 15 kills and 15 digs, while fifth-year Ella Rosenfield recorded 11 kills, a .360 average, and five of her team’s 11 blocks.
As the set scores suggest, the match consisted of a seesaw battle of UC Davis dominating the odd-numbered sets and UCI easily claiming the second and fourth. The Aggies hit .341 in the opener, .351 in the third and .321 in the fifth, but hit .194 and .081 in their two set losses, respectively. In contrast, the Anteaters stormed to a .448 clip in the second and .385 in the fifth, but managed only five kills in the rubber frame.
Despite a 3-1 start, UC Davis largely played the part of pursuer in the first set, facing deficits of 10-6 and 14-10 before battling back to a win. Ohiri hammered down three kills in a comeback to 14-14, then UC Davis regained the lead with Eichie and freshman Nicola Moore combined on a block to set the board at 18-17. The ‘Eaters responded with three straight to forge a two-point lead, and later held a 21-19 lead on Lena Latour’s kill. However, the Aggies scored five of the next seven. Allen and Ohiri posted solo stuffs while Squyres, Allen and Walbrecht each scored kills down the stretch.
In the second set, UCI senior Marisa Bubica hit three kills with a block assist to lead her team to a 10-5 start. Kekauoha scored her team’s 14th through 16th points to keep the Anteaters in front by 15-10, then Rosenfeld scored back-to-back to make it 18-11. Junior outside hitter Victoria Dennis closed out the set with three blocks in her team’s final six points, evening the match at 1-1 heading to the break.
The two teams battled to seven ties until UC Davis scored three straight to pull away from an 11-11 impasse. Ohiri had a block assist and a kill in that run, then later teamed with Moore for a block to make it 20-13 in the Aggies’ favor. Allen also served up two aces in a span of four unanswered UC Davis points. Squyres put down three kills down the stretch with Walbrecht delivering the set-winner, boosting the Aggies to the 2-1 match lead.
Squyres added two more kills to boost UC Davis to a 5-2 start before UC Irvine exploded for seven straight in crafting a 9-5 lead. The Aggies suffered from eight attack errors in that set alone while the Anteaters committed just one, and the match went to its deciding fifth frame.
Eichie carried UC Davis early in the fifth with three kills and a solo stuff in a 5-3 start. The Aggies led the rest of the way, with Moore and Ohiri teaming up for consecutive blocks to extend the lead to 8-4. A wide cross-court shot and an errant four ball helped UCI pull to within 9-8, but Squyres caught fire with three kills in a 6-1 Aggie finish. Allen’s dig on the back right allowed UC Davis to transition to a Squyres kill for match point, then Eichie scored the winner when she took advantage of a UCI down ball. The sophomore middle fired into the open back court to close out the marathon win.
Saturday’s win completes a series sweep of UC Davis against UC Irvine in 2015. The Aggies also went 2-0 against Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara this season. They look to do the same against Cal Poly in their season finale on Tuesday night. UC Davis will also honor seniors Squyres and Jillian Johnson in that home finale at 7 p.m. at the Pavilion.