Aggies begin three-match homestand with UCI

Sept. 25, 2017

StatBroadcast | Live Audio | BigWest TV

DAVIS, Calif.  -- After beginning the Big West Conference season against the Cal Poly, the league's lone team in the national rankings; and Hawai'i, the two-time defending champions, UC Davis women's volleyball continues its march through the first half of conference play in the first of three straight home matches. The Aggies host UC Irvine on Friday night at 7 p.m.

The Anteaters enjoyed the best start in program history, running up a 12-1 record in the preseason, before their six-match win streak came to an end at Hawai'i.

UC Davis suffered three-set sweeps at the hands of the Mustangs and the Rainbow Wahine last week, with no Aggie player managing to break double digits in kills in either match. Freshman outside hitter/opposite Mahalia White led the team in kills with 16, while sophomore Lauren Matias had 14 kills and hit .263 for the week. In fact, UC Davis hit a solid .236 in Tuesday's league opener with Cal Poly, but also surrendered a .386 average -- the highest by an opponent since Hawai'i sprung for a .398 clip back in October of 2015.

"I thought we had a big improvement in our mentality against Hawai'i," said head coach Dan Conners. "We still need to improve in our consistency but we were a lot more consistent. I'd like us to stay aggressive through the entire match. There were times when we got safe. Down the stretch in Game 1, we made some conservative plays and that was the difference.

"You can beat teams by being safe if they make a lot of mistakes. You can't beat good teams when you're safe. We have to learn how to be more aggressive at all times.

Overall, junior Emily Allen leads UC Davis with 2.74 kills per set (145 total), with White not far behind at 2.58 (134). Junior middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri paces the team with a .317 average, thanks to an 80-23-180 attacking chart, and has 48 blocks in 48 sets. Junior libero Malia Bolko paces the floor defense with 260 digs (4.91 dps).

Junior outside hitter Haley DeSales and junior opposite Harlee Kekahuoha each have 149 kills in 44 frames for a team-leading 3.39 kps to lead the UCI offense. DeSales had 17 in Friday's loss to Hawai'i. Kekahuoha (.316) plus middles Idara Akpakpa (.369) and Makayla Wolfe (.301) have helped the `Eaters to a .256 team average, second in the Big West only to Cal Poly's .315. The team's previous best season starts were in 1981 (10-1) and 2009 (9-1). That 2009 team was ranked No. 23 nationally when it lost to UC Davis, marking the first time the Aggies had defeated an opponent rated in the AVCA Division Top 25.

"Irvine is a good team. We're going to have to be aggressive. We're going to have to know what shots are working offensively and go to those shots. If they figure out how to stop that, we have to adjust. It's a game of adjustments, and we have to better at making those adjustments," said Conners.

Live stats for Friday's match are available via StatBroadcast. KDVS Sports alumnus David "DK" Kim will provide live play-by-play through Stretch Internet.

Junior libero Malia Bolko won her second consecutive Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week award last week... She lived up to that honor with 25 digs at Hawai'i on Saturday, a career best for a three-set match... Bolko's previous high was 24 against Cal State Fullerton as a freshman... Her overall high is 31, also against the Titans, in four sets last October... At 4.91 per set, Bolko slipped to No. 2 among the Big West leaders, now trailing UCSB's Emilia Petrachi (5.02)... Junior Kelechi Ohiri had seven blocks last weekend, bringing her season average to 1.00, or fifth in the conference.

Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.

Season and single-game tickets for all UC Davis fall sports are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at