Season-best crowd honors seniors in victory

Junior Kendall Walbrecht (above) and freshman Nicola Moore combined for 25-2-53 attacking stats in Tuesday's win against Cal Poly. Walbrecht also posted seven blocks for the night.
(Wayne Tilcock,
Nov. 24, 2015

Final Stats

DAVIS, Calif. - Redshirt freshman middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri tied her career high of 12 blocks while the right-side combination of junior Kendall Walbrecht and freshman Nicola Moore combined for 25 kills and a .434 average, leading UC Davis to a four-set, 23-25, 25-11, 25-22, 25-22 in front of a season-best home crowd of 1,068 in Big West Conference women's volleyball action at the Pavilion Tuesday night.

The Aggies finish their season at 15-15 overall and 10-6 in conference play. The Mustangs close up at 19-8 overall and 11-5 in the Big West.

Ohiri contributed on exactly two-thirds of her team's season-high 18 blocks. She had five stuffs in the first set then turned on the offense to a perfect 5-for-5 attacking in the fourth. Walbrecht put down 13 kills with just one hitting error on 30 swings for a .400 average, while Moore posted 12 kills with one error en route to a .478 clip. Ohiri added 7-2-13 attacking for a .385 success rate, joining her fellow middle blocker Aima Eichie, who hit 4-for-6.

Tuesday's match also served as a Senior Night finale for outside hitter Kaylin Squyres and middle blocker Jillian Johnson. Squyres tallied a team-best 13 kills and 13 digs to finish with season totals of 491 and 403, respectively. Johnson appeared in two sets, finishing with a pair of block assists.

Freshman Adlee Van Winden led all players with 16 kills on 48 attempts with opposite Taylor Gruenewald chipping in 10 kills and a .391 average. Senior libero Nicole Kessler finished with 20 digs, including 10 in the third set.

UC Davis struggled offensively in the first set, firing only five kills in the early going but capitalizing on seven blocks to take an 18-16 lead after an initial 8-4 hole. A Walbrecht tool established a 20-17 lead until the Mustangs responded with four unanswered to claim a 21-20 edge. Squyres knocked down two kills down the stretch, but Cal Poly managed to stay a step ahead. Raneann Greisen and Savannah Niemen scored the set-winner on a left-side block to propel the Mustangs to the match lead.

After a .077 average in the first, the Aggies rebounded to a blistering .481 in the second. Running their 6-2 system, the Walbrecht-Moore platoon combined for 9-for-11 hitting on the right side. Moore had three kills in a 5-0 run that gave UC Davis a 5-2 lead, then serving runs from setter Maddie Merlino and outside hitter Allie Wegener extended the margin to 14-5. Squyres pounded out five kills in the second, as UC Davis never allowed Cal Poly to approach by closer than an eight-point deficit.

The UC Davis serving and blocking continued to handcuff the Mustangs into the third, flipping a 4-1 deficit into a 14-8 lead. The Mustangs committed five straight attacking errors during that stretch. Nonetheless, heavy offense from Van Winden and Greisen brought Cal Poly back in, with four straight points turning an 18-16 Aggie edge into a 20-18 Mustang advantage. Eichie ended the run on a well-placed one ball, then Wegener served three straight aces to reclaim the UC Davis lead at 22-20. The Aggies held on to the edge from there: Walbrecht's cross-court kill, a Cal Poly wide shot and Ohiri's 10th block of the match finished the frame to give UC Davis a 2-1 match lead.

Van Winden's continued hitting propelled Cal Poly to a 4-1 start, then back-to-back Kessler service aces highlighted a run of five straight Mustang points to a 13-7 lead. Ohiri took over from there, combining with Squyres on a block then turning back two stray free balls. Squyres added a solo stuff of her own to reduce the Mustang lead to 12-13, and briefly put the Aggies on top when she fired back a down ball at 16-15. The senior outside hitter then gave UC Davis a boost from the service line with four straight points, resulting in a 21-18 lead. That 21st may have been the most unlikely of all: she pushed a down ball over the net and into an open space in the Mustang front court.

Cal Poly never recovered from that point, despite clawing back to within a one-point deficit on two occasions. Freshman Emily Allen delivered a perfect line shot to make it 22-20, then tooled the Mustang right-side block for the 23rd point. Ohiri's offspeed kill established match point, then Squyres scored the final Aggie point of the season when her shot glanced off the Cal Poly block and came down safely in front of the UC Davis student section.

Squyres' 13 digs gave her a 24th double-double of the year, and put her season total to 403. She becomes the first non-libero to break the quadruple-century mark since Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Famer Candy Lench had 493 in 1990, when volleyball still played in side-out scoring rules.

Freshman libero Malia Bolko posted a team-best 17 digs with fellow rookies Merlino and Allen adding 15 and 13, respectively. Merlino also had 19 assists in support of junior setter Sophia Mar's 21.

The win also completes a season series sweep against Cal Poly. At 10-6, UC Davis finishes fourth in the Big West Conference race, three places higher than the preseason polls for the second straight season.