UC Davis continues Big West play in Orange County

Junior middle blocker Aima Eichie returned to action last weekend after a six-match absence. (Wayne Tilcock, AggiePhoto.com)
Sept. 26, 2016

Weekly Release No. 6 Get Acrobat Reader | Live Stats (Presto) | Live Video (BigWest TV)

Saturday, Oct. 1 - at UC Irvine, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22 - LONG BEACH STATE (L, 0-3)
Saturday, Sept. 24 - CSUN (L, 2-3)

WEEK 5 RECAP: UC Davis (7-8, 0-2) opened Big West Conference play with home losses to Long Beach State and CSUN... The Aggies lost to 49ers in straight sets on Thursday, then lasted the full five for the sixth time in the last eight meetings against the Matadors on Saturday... Freshman Lauren Matias totaled 28 kills (3.50) with sophomore Emily Allen right behind her at 27 (3.38) and 24 digs (3.00)... Sophomore OH Brianna Karsseboom notched career highs in kills (14), total attempts (35) and digs (8) in Saturday’s battle with CSUN... Sophomore DS Malia Bolko also had a career high with her five aces... Redshirt freshman libero Heather Reed totaled 38 digs for a 4.75 average... UC Davis hit well as a team (.242) but unfortunately surrendered a .335 average: .366 by Long Beach State, .312 by CSUN... Corresponding with the opponent hitting was a slight drop in digs (16.00 per set) and just 10.0 blocks (1.25).

WELCOME BACK: As well as the freshman and sophomore classes played in the preseason, the return of the juniors and seniors was/will be a welcome sight for head coach Dan Conners... Junior MB Aima Eichie made her first appearance since the Sept. 9 match against Southern Utah... She matched fellow MB Kelechi Ohiri with identical 9-3-18 (.333) attacking lines on Saturday... No word on the return of OH Allie Wegener and 2015 All-Big West honoree Kendall Walbrecht.

IT’S NOT HOW YOU START...: Thursday’s loss marks the fourth straight year that UC Davis has lost its conference opener... In fact, the 2015 Aggies lost their first two to the same teams – 3-0 to LBSU, 3-1 to CSUN – but recovered to a 10-6 conference record... In 2014, UC Davis began with a 3-0 loss to Hawai’i then won 10 of its next 12.

STAT RANKINGS: Reed held as the Big West Conference digs leader for another week with her 4.85 per-set average... Ohiri remains atop the conference lead in blocks at 1.37 with Hawaii’s Emily Maglio closing the gap (1.28)... Sophomore OH Emily Allen slipped to fifth in kills at 3.73... Sophomore MB Lauren Jackson’s hitting average fell to .368 but remains fourth in the Big West... As a team, UC Davis ranks second in the conference with 16.16 digs per set.

UP NEXT: UC Davis has only one match for the week for the first time all season, specifically Saturday’s road Big West tilt at UC Irvine... Live stats (Presto Stats) and live video (BigWestTV) are available at the links above... HOMETOWN INTEREST: The Aggies have several Southern Californians on the 2016 roster, with sophomores Katie Campbell (Dana Point) and Lauren Jackson (Fullerton) hailing from Orange County.

UC IRVINE (5-11, 0-2) opened Big West play in hard-luck fashion, falling in five sets to both CSUN and Long Beach State... The Anteaters outkilled and outdug both opponents... Senior OH Victoria Dennis totaled 42 kills for the weekend: 23 against the 49ers, 19 vs. the Matadors... Sophomore setter Ali Koumelis picked up 28 digs and two aces and three blocks against LBSU... Sophomore MB Idara Akpakpa posted a 10-1-16 (.562) line in Thursday’s loss... Dennis ranks third in the Big West with 3.81 kills per set... UCI is the only team with two players in the league’s top 10 in digs: Luna Tsujimoto (7th, 3.55) and Koumelis (9th, 3.29).

“I think as far as our mental approach, staying aggressive will be something we’ll be hitting pretty hard this weekend. It was in and out throughout the pre-conference. When we had it, we were playing well.

“These are just guesses, but I think playing at home and playing in front of friends and family were distractions. School starting is a distraction. There are different distractions when playing at home and we weren’t comfortable with those yet.”

“I don’t know if statistical things will really tell the story of what we need to work on. It’s about our mindset and sustaining aggression in all aspects of the game throughout an entire match. It’s one of those things that, as a coach, you see if they’re making a safe play or an aggressive play. And the players understand it – they know what a safe play or an aggressive play looks like. It’s something that’s challenging to stat because it’s a judgment by a player and a judgment by a coach.”

“We hit above our season average against Long Beach and Northridge. Offensively, we were doing fine. Defensively, we got hit by a lot of balls but we didn’t dig a lot of balls. Our blocking was not great – our timing was off. So we need to block and defend a lot better than we did this last weekend, and we’ll work on that quite a bit this week.”