Sept. 25, 2012
Friday, Sept. 28 - UC RIVERSIDE, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29 - CAL STATE FULLERTON, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 22 - PACIFIC (W, 3-1)
TO RECAP: UC Davis (7-7, 1-0) opened its Big West Conference season with a four-set upset of Pacific, which had only suffered one loss during the preseason - to then-No. 8 Stanford at the Stanford Invitational... Junior OH Devon Damelio paced the Aggies with 15 kills on 41 swings, while providing nine digs and four block assists on defense... Although she was a candidate for Big West Player of the Week honors, two Aggie sophomores proved to be the unsung heroes of the match: OH Valerie Brain tallied nine kills and a career-high five blocks, while MB Victoria Lee hit 7-1-12 (.500) with a career-best 10 stuffs... Those two combined for nine kills without an error in the fourth set... Furthermore, Lee blocked three straight shots to close out the first set, erasing a 22-21 Tiger lead; while Brain pounded out three kills in a span of seven points to hold off Pacific's comeback effort in the final set.
AN UPSET, QUANTIFIED: The Tigers had entered the Others Receiving Votes section of the AVCA Top 25 the week before, but the Aggies' win knocked them out of Monday's new poll... Also providing context to the magnitude of Saturday's upset are the Rich Kern RPI and Pablo Rankings from Sept. 17: Pacific had ranked 17th and 18th in those empirical standings, while UC Davis checked in at No. 113 and No. 116, respectively... The 98-point difference in Pablo scores makes it the second-biggest D-I upset of the season among matches in which the losing team ranked among the top 50 (No. 157 Syracuse defeated No. 39 Iowa State back on Sept. 8)...
Furthermore, according to Pacific's volleyball history, this marks the fourth straight year that UC Davis has handed the Tigers a loss in the Big West Conference opener... In 2009, Pacific started 10-1 before losing in four at UC Davis on Sept. 24... In 2010, the Tigers had gone 7-4 in the preseason, with a win over No. 24 Arizona, before the Aggies claimed a five-set win at the Spanos Center... Last season, Pacific went 9-4 to start the year, only to lose in a 78-minute sweep in Stockton on Sept. 21.
STAT RANKINGS: Lee held the top spot among Big West Conference blocks leaders with a 1.39 average, while her .307 hitting remains fifth... Senior Allison Whitson ranks eighth in kills at 3.56, one spot ahead of Damelio (3.31)... Setter Jenny Woolway stayed at ninth in assists (7.63) while libero Caroline Mercado continues to rank seventh in digs at 3.85.
UP NEXT: UC Davis remains at home for two more Big West matches, this time against UC Riverside (Friday) and Cal State Fullerton (Saturday)... Expect a significant crowd in Friday night's match: it is one of two "Welcome Week" home events on the UC Davis athletics slate, and a designated Aggie Pack event... The Aggies last drew a four-digit home attendance last year against UC Irvine (Sept. 24).
UC RIVERSIDE (5-10, 0-2) opened its conference season with a 3-0 setback to No. 7 Hawai'i on Friday, then battled Cal State Northridge to a five-set loss to Cal State Northridge on Saturday... The Highlanders held the edge in kills (73-58) and hitting percentage (.201-.156) over the Matadors, but were hampered by 14 serving errors... UCR overcame four set points in a wild 29-27 win in the third frame but squandered a 15-7 start in the fourth... Freshman OH Ashley Cox tallied a match-high 21 kills against Northridge... Senior and 2011 All-Big West first-team honoree Amanda Vialpando leads the Highlanders with 163 kills (3.26 per set) and .232 hitting.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (6-9, 0-2) overcame set losses of 25-12 and 25-15 to force a fifth frame against the No. 7 Wahine... Outsides Kayla Neto and Bre Moreland each had 14 kills in the match but also combined for 21 attack errors... Senior DS Gabrielle Dewberry picked up 20 digs on Saturday after notching 16 in Friday's four-set loss to Cal State Northridge... Neto and Moreland are 1-2 among the Titans hitters with 208 (3.78) and 204 (3.71) kills, respectively... Dewberry and libero Cindy Ortiz rank fourth and third among Big West digs leaders at 4.35 and 4.71 per set, making the Titans the only team with two among the league's top 10.
HEAD COACH JAMIE HOLMES:
"On every level, it was great to beat Pacific. To be able to kick off this part of our season at 1-0 is something that solidifies confidence in the growth we made during the preseason. In terms of our team's behind-the-scenes goals, it's great to come away with the win as well. So on every level - our preparation, behind the scenes, or the actual outcome - I am excited about that victory."
"It's definitely a quality win. But most importantly, it shows we've made some improvements, especially in the blocking category. Our young middles are growing into no longer being young middles anymore. Victoria Lee went off for 10 blocks. Her hitting efficiency is way beyond the marks we set for her. Katie Quinn gets better every time she plays. It's fun to see. I think we'll see that as that position grows and gets more consistent night in and night out, that will open up our pins. And I think we saw that against Pacific."
"The neat thing about Victoria and Katie is that they're not just emerging on Fridays and Saturdays. They're hungry every day in practice. Theirs are the wide eyes that are bright and paying attention. When they have the opportunity to swing, they're going up and swinging hard. You can see them really focusing and making changes. That's what our team needed. Katie Denny was a four-year starter for us. She brought an unquestionable work ethic. Betsy was the same way. So their graduation wasn't really about the numbers but about their process. It's nice to see the younger players adopting their same process."
"We have a tough weekend coming up. Every weekend in the Big West is a tough weekend. Riverside took Northridge to five. Any team can take any other team on any given night. I think it's more true this year than any other since I've been in the Big West Conference. This weekend, we expect to continue getting better. We want to increase our ability to defend, to hold down the other team's hitting efficiency. And we want to increase our side-out percentage. If we can side out at a high clip, 70 percent or so, we're in any ballgame. The defensive transition can take care of itself. So containing on defense and increasing our side out efficiencies are the two areas we continue to focus on."