UC Davis volleyball hosts CSUN, Long Beach State

Oct. 2, 2017

Weekly Release No. 7 Get Acrobat Reader | Live Audio | BigWestTV | Live Stats (Thursday) | Live Stats (Saturday)

DAVIS, Calif. -- A heart-breaking Big West Conference loss to UC Irvine on Friday sets the stage for two more league matches this week, namely CSUN on Thursday and Long Beach State on Saturday. While the setback certainly stung, head coach Dan Conners considered several stretches of the match as “some of the best volleyball we’ve played.”

Indeed, the Aggies dominated the first two sets in holding a 2-0 match lead at the break. They hit 13 kills with just one error for a .522 average in the opener, then followed with a 15-4-26 (.423) attacking line in the second set. UC Davis converted 26 of 36 side outs (.722), while holding the Anteaters to just 25-for-49 (.510) in the same situations. Freshman hitter Mahalia White, who had a season-best 20 kills and a .333 average, attacked at a 6-for-8 clip in the first set.

In fact, Friday’s setback marked the first time UC Davis had lost a match after winning the first set. Furthermore, the Aggies held the edge on kills (56-54), attacking average (.250-.195), aces (10-9), digs (67-59) and blocks (14-7).
“We were passing well and running our offense the way we wanted. When we were serving tough, they were not able to get into their rhythm offensively,” said Conners. “As the match went on, our serving backed off a little bit while their serving got tougher. Plus, we had some opportunities in the third set but we made some decisions that didn’t allow us to capitalize.”

Conners chalks that up to a team for which the experience level is still catching up to the talent level. After all, the starting group features two true freshman and a sophomore, with only one player – middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri – having started more than two full seasons. This also means the team’s upside remains high. White leads the Aggies in kills (3.27) during the three conference matches, with sophomore Lauren Matias in second (2.73). Junior libero Malia Bolko has 51 digs in the last two matches. Friday also saw the return of Lauren Jackson, who had missed 12 matches due to injury prior to last weekend.

Of course, improvement and upticks are what Conners ultimately seeks from his team, which is why the highlight-reel portion of the UCI match offers such optimism for the remainder of the season. “We have to continue learning different situations. Too often, we are giving our opponents the advantage. When Irvine started putting pressure on us, we started making bad decisions. I don’t think it’s a lack of understanding, it’s just an ability to make good choices when you’re in a pressure situation.”

CSUN (9-7, 3-1) finished a three-match homestand that included wins over Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara prior to Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Cal Poly. Junior outside hitter Aeryn Owens ranks second in the Big West with 4.77 kills per set, while middles Rachel Diaz and Melissa Eaglin are hitting .371 and .337, respectively. LONG BEACH STATE (5-12, 2-2) split its weekend with Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last weekend, taking down the Mustangs in four sets before dispatching the Gauchos in three on Saturday. Junior OH Megan Kruidhof has 214 kills (3.34 kps) while sophomore MB YiZhi Xue has a .307 success rate and 60 total blocks (0.94).

David “DK” Kim will again provide live audio play-by-play on Stretch Internet, while live stats are available via StatBroadcast. Additionally, streaming video for all Big West matches can be found at BigWestTV.

QUICK SETS: Friday’s loss to UC Irvine featured key career highs for a few relatively young careers... Freshman OPP Mahalia White knocked down a match-high 20 kills, freshman S Paloma Bowman issued 32 assists, and sophomore Jackie Graves served up two aces... In fact, Graves had only served two balls as a collegian, both in 2016... Libero Malia Bolko ranks second in the Big West Conference at 4.93 digs per set... Junior Kelechi Ohiri posted six stuffs against the ‘Eaters... She ranks 5th in the league at 1.04 bps... Looking ahead: the October 17 match with UC Santa Barbara will also serve as the “Dig Pink” match for cancer research, plus it will provide another venue for the new Marya Welch Initiative for women’s athletics.

ABOUT UC DAVIS: 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.

DON’T MISS OUT: 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 UCDavisAggies.com.