Volleyball to honor senior class Thursday

Nov. 13, 2017

Weekly Release No. 13 Get Acrobat Reader | Live Stats | Live Audio (UC Davis) | BigWestTV

DAVIS, Calif. -- The Big West Conference season comes to a close for UC Davis women’s volleyball during Thursday night’s home finale against Hawai’i. At 16-12 overall and 8-7 in league, the Aggies remain in the hunt for a share of third place in the Big West Conference standings. Furthermore, Thursday’s match will pay tribute to two UC Davis fourth-years who are playing in their final seasons.

Defensive specialist Katie Campbell and middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri each are listed as redshirt juniors but have opted to graduate in their fourth years as students. Campbell arrived to the Aggies as a former setter for TStreet VBC and Dana Hills High School, but made the transition to a DS/libero and serving specialist at UC Davis. Ohiri originally signed with the Aggies during the transition before head coach Dan Conners’ arrival. A relative latecomer to the sport – she never played competitively until high school – she emerged as one of the best blockers in program history.

Both student-athletes have excelled off the court as well. Campbell is a three-year member of the Big West Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll in her major of biotechnology. Ohiri was selected as one of two student assistants to Chancellor Gary May, and was featured in the university’s “Five Student Leaders To Follow” list.

For Coach Conners, also a fourth-year Aggie himself, both Ohiri and Campbell have set examples in the gym in their different ways. “Katie has an incredible work ethic. When she came in, she didn’t have a lot of strength, and now she’s one of the stronger and more durable players on the team. She’s one of the hardest workers in the weight room and sets a good tone in both places. 

“Kel is an incredibly authentic person. She doesn’t hold back how she feels or what she thinks, which is great because you get to know Kel. She also sets a great example with that, with how to be authentic. She has done a great job with leadership, at keeping things positive and motivating people to work hard. She’s constantly pushing through some challenges, having been in and out of the lineup due to some physical limitations. She sets a great example of mind over body.”

Ohiri enters the weekend with 320 career blocks, just nine away from tying Kate DeVore (1999-2001) for fifth on the UC Davis career list. With a .304 average, she also has a chance to become just the fourth player in program history to hit better than .300 in a career with at least 1,000 total attempts. The organizational studies major also enjoyed one of her best weekends of her career last week against Cal Poly (Friday) and UC Santa Barbara (Saturday). Ohiri hit 7-1-16 against the Mustangs followed by an 8-0-15 line against the Gauchos for a .452 average, her best weekend rate since going 13-0-21 (.619) at the George Washington Invitational in 2015.

Campbell’s playing time has been more sparse in a program that already boasts such six-rotation players like current teammates Emily Allen and Brianna Karsseboom, plus the likes of liberos Heather Reed and Malia Bolko (see QUICK SETS below). Still, she has contributed in 17 matches and 29 sets during her career, mostly as a serving and defensive specialist. Campbell, who made her first collegiate start this year at UT Arlington, enjoyed her best match as an Aggie at home against Cal State Fullerton last year: an ace, eight digs and 12 serve receptions without an error on October 22.

Coach Conners also looks to see his team’s marked late-season improvement in Thursday’s match with Hawai’i. Saturday’s win at UCSB was the second time the Aggies avenged a previous loss, a four-setter at home on October 17. In addition to Ohiri’s output, junior middle Lauren Jackson continued her strong Big West season with a 7-1-13 (.462) night while Mahalia White took down her fifth Big West Freshman of the Week award after scoring 22 kills and a .385 average against the Gauchos.

“Santa Barbara was another match that was close at home but didn’t go our way, then we went down there and came away with the win,” said Conners. “I’ve definitely seen some improvements at figuring out how to be better in tough moments.”

HAWAI’I (18-7, 12-2) swept CSUN and Long Beach State in its previous action before taking a bye during the Veterans Day weekend. Junior OH McKenna Granato, who led the Rainbow Wahine with 16 kills in the previous matchup with the Aggies, ranks fourth in the Big West at 3.96 kills per set. Emily Maglio paces the conference in blocks at 1.51, well ahead of second-place Ohiri (1.05).

Live stats for Thursday’s match are available via StatBroadcast while KDVS alumnus David “DK” Kim will provide live audio play-by-play on Stretch Internet. Links are above. Tiff Wells will broadcast the match for Wahine fans at ESPN 1420 AM.

QUICK SETS: Malia Bolko picked up 18 more digs in last week’s road trip, bringing her career total to 1,393 and her season total to 515... She needs just 12 to eclipse Nichole Brown’s 2005 school season record of 526... Of course, on the way there, she will pass Candy Lench (1,395 from 1989-92) for fourth on the UC Davis career list... Bolko also still has a chance to break Mary McClelland’s 2004 benchmark of 13 matches of 20-plus digs in a season... She has 12 entering the final two dates on the 2017 schedule... Finally, Bolko will finish the year somewhere on the school’s season top five for digs per set... Her league-leading 4.86 puts her on pace for fourth, slightly ahead of Avreeta Singh’s 4.85 in 2007... Heather Reed holds the No. 5 spot with her 4.32 last year.

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 winter sports are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at UCDavisAggies.com.