Volleyball heads south for two Big West matches

Oct. 9, 2017

Weekly Release No. 8 Get Acrobat Reader | Big West TV | Live Stats (UCR) | Live Stats (CSF)

DAVIS, Calif. – The weekend victory against Long Beach State served both as reward and reinforcement to UC Davis women’s volleyball, which now returns to the road for continued Big West Conference action, this time at UC Riverside (Friday) and Cal State Fullerton (Saturday). The 9-9 Aggies suffered through back-to-back five-set losses at the hands of UC Irvine and CSUN before picking up their first league win of the year against the 49ers on Saturday.

By most measures, UC Davis outperformed both the Anteaters and Matadors in the two previous losses. The Aggies had more kills and a higher hitting average in each match. They outblocked UCI by a 14-7 margin and served up 10 aces in that match. They hit .404, .458 and .310 in the second through fourth sets against CSUN. 

Ultimately, says head coach Dan Conners, the one trait UC Davis lacked does not show up on the boxscore: consistency. Saturday’s win over LBSU saw much more sustained, aggressive play compared to the up-and-down trends earlier in this conference season. “I would hope this reinforces that aggressive play leads to more consistent play. That’s what we’re looking for,” Conners said. “We’ve played some really good volleyball and still lost the match. It comes down to consistency. Figuring out how to stay consistent is what will propel us.”

The fourth-year Aggie mentor now looks to continue marching forward from that win. Highlighting the week was the play of freshman Mahalia White, who posted 43 kills and a .341 average in nine sets en route to Big West Conference Freshman of the Week honors. Sophomore Lauren Matias averaged another 3.56 kills per set (32 total) and hit .296. In fact, those two players have shown perhaps the most marked uptick from the preseason to conference play: White averaged 2.57 kps and a .159 clip in the preseason, Matias went 2.09 and .164. In five Big West dates, White has scored 3.95 kills per set with a .299 efficiency, while Matias has improved to 3.10 kps and a .288 attack rate.

Credit also goes to freshman setter Paloma Bowman, who amassed a career-high 57 assists and engineered the UC Davis offense to a .285 average. The passing line of Matias, libero Malia Bolko and outside hitter Emily Allen committed only one reception error between them. Their first contact helped Bowman’s cause in distributing double-digit kills to four different players: a career-high 23 by White, 17 from Matias, 11 from Allen, and 10 from junior middle Lauren Jackson. With 10 digs to go with her offensive output, Allen also performed her first double-double of the conference season – something she had done seven times in the preseason.

Conners’ singular goal for his team is to see continued improvement throughout the season, so this overall team performance should serve as a turning point for the season. 

“The thing I want to be conscious of is not getting too low after losses and not getting too high after wins. Our focus has to continue to be on improving and being in a competitive mindset when we are in matches,” he said. “We want to stay aggressive and be prepared for every opponent.”

UC RIVERSIDE (9-8, 1-4) snapped a six-match losing streak with a four-set victory against Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore Mickayla Sherman scored 25 kills, the most by any Highlander since Sherman’s own 26 vs. UC Santa Barbara a year ago this weekend. Junior OH Kaiulani Ahuna, a transfer from Eastern Washington, leads UCR with 3.45 kills per set while providing another 2.47 digs per set on defense. CAL STATE FULLERTON (4-14, 0-5) seeks its first conference win, having lost eight straight matches dating back to the Towson Tiger Invitational in early September. Junior Madline Schneider leads the Titans with 209 kills (3.17 kps), helped by a 25-4-57 (.368) line in last week’s non-conference tilt with CSU Bakersfield.

Both of this weekend’s matches will be streamed on Big West TV (link above).

QUICK SETS: The Aggies’ Tuesday, October 17 home match against UC Santa Barbara will serve as the annual Dig Pink match for breast cancer research, plus it will provide a venue for a “Women In Sports Day” reception for the Marya Welch Initiative... A 6 p.m. pregame reception will include a meet-and-greet with various past and present UC Davis student-athletes, plus games, Woodstock’s pizza and beer sales... This match also has a reduced ticket price of $5... Tickets are available via tickets.ucdavis.edu.

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.