Sunday, Nov. 15 - No. 7 HAWAI’I (L, 1-3)
TO RECAP: UC DAVIS (13-15, 8-6) lost to No. 7 Hawai’i on four sets on Sunday, becoming only the second conference team (joining Long Beach State) to take the Set 1 against the Wahine... As head coach Dan Conners noted, UH entered the match hitting .291 with 3.40 blocks per set, but were held to .234 – including .194 in the first three frames – and 10.0 blocks in the four-set battle... Freshman libero and reigning Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year Malia Bolko tallied 23 digs, raising her conference per-set average to 4.57... Freshman OH Emily Allen added 14 digs while senior OH Kaylin Squyres led her team with 19 kills on 52 swings... Junior OH Allie Wegener served up three of the Aggies’ eight aces.
MILESTONES: Squyres raised her career kills total to 1,163, now putting her within 46 of Jill Changaris (1,209 from 1993-96) for fifth in school history with two matches remaining... Her 457 for the year has moved her into the UC Davis season Top 5 list, eclipsing Allison Whitson’s 2012 total of 452... In part because of Hawaii’s block, redshirt freshman Kelechi Ohiri’s hitting average dipped to .335... She has a chance to rank in the top five on the school’s season average list... Nicole Read holds the No. 5 spot at .337, also a high for a freshman... Bolko’s average of 4.22 digs per set has her on pace for fifth in school history, ahead of Caroline Mercado’s 4.13 in 2011.
STAT RANKINGS: Squyres leads the Big West in both kills (457) and kills per set (4.35) although Hawaii’s Nikki Taylor (4.27) has made a late run for the latter with two 20-kill performances in the last three matches... She also leads all non-liberos in digs at 3.56... Bolko ranks third in digs per set (4.22), second in total digs (443)... Ohiri slipped to No. 4 in hitting average (.335) and stayed at No. 5 in blocks (1.05), just behind teammate Aima Eichie (1.09)... As a team, UC Davis ranks second in blocks at 2.29 per set... On a national level, Squyres has moved into the top 20 in kills per set, tied with Jacksonville’s Emily Laskelle.
UP NEXT: The Aggies head to UC Irvine for an ESPN3-televised match on Saturday, then wraps up the year with a Tuesday Senior Night match against Cal Poly on November 24... See above for links to ESPN3 and live stats.
SENIOR NIGHT: UC Davis will bid farewell to two seniors, OH Kaylin Squyres and MB Jillian Johnson, in Tuesday’s season finale against Cal Poly... Squyres has enjoyed one of the most prolific careers of the program’s Div. I era, entering the final two matches with 1,163 kills and 861 digs – particularly impressive given that she missed almost her entire freshman year due to injury... Johnson, better known to friends and teammates as “JJ,” has stepped up as either a middle or a serving specialist during her career... She filled in for an injured Katie Quinn in 2013, hitting .417 in those starts...JJ served up 14 aces as a junior and another eight this season... She single-handedly served the Aggies from a 23-19 deficit into a 25-23 win at CSUN back on Sept. 26... “The biggest thing for me was that they committed to supporting me and the new staff and what we were bringing here,” said Conners. “They were willing to jump on board. Both of them have very different roles but will be very missed by the staff and the team.”
UC IRVINE (12-13, 6-7) has a chance to overtake UC Davis in the Big West race... The Anteaters have come on strong as of late, hitting .279 in the last five matches and taking third-place Cal Poly to five sets last Friday... Freshman opposite Harlee Kekauoha led UCI with 18 kills in the 3-2 loss to the Mustangs, then followed with a perfect 6-for-6 night in Saturday’s win at UC Santa Barbara... Senior OH Marisa Bubica totaled 34 kills for the weekend, including a 19-5-41 (.341) night against the Gauchos... Kekauoha (3.34) and Bubica (3.00) lead the ‘Eaters in kills while senior MB Ella Rosenfeld has hit .331 with a team-high 77 blocks.
CAL POLY (19-6, 11-3) looks to avenge the five-set loss to the Aggies from Nov. 7 while chasing its first 20-win season since 2010... Regardless of the outcome, credit fourth-year head coach Sam Crosson, who has rebuilt the program after its tumultuous 2011 and 2012 seasons... Freshman OH Adlee Van Winden leads the Mustangs with 372 kills (4.00 per set)... She totaled 22 kills in last weekend’s sweeps of UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton, while sophomore OH Raeann Greisen delivered 16-4-29 (.414) hitting against the Titans Saturday... Sophomore S Taylor Nelson has 29 aces and 285 digs to go with her league-leading 11.01 assists average
HEAD COACH DAN CONNERS:
On Hawai’i match: “At least through their first three sets, we played very good defense. They were hitting .200 through the first three. They’re a team that’s hitting over .300 for the season. We let them get a little loose in the fourth, which wasn’t great, but a lot of their hitters hit under their season averages. We scrambled well, blocked them well and did some really nice things defensively. I also thought we served well. When we were getting it on the passer we wanted, they were struggling. I thought we served the libero a little too much but when we got it on the passer we wanted, she felt the pressure and that scored us some points.”
“Overall, I thought we had a good game plan for them, and when we’re executing our style well, it can cause trouble for them. Malia dug a lot of balls. It was definitely a defensive match. Hawai’i always plays great defense. We had trouble scoring, and that was the biggest difference. But again, holding a team that hits over .300 to .234 means we did a nice job defensively. Then one of the things offensively is that we held them to below their season average in blocks per set. We did a nice job covering and taking smart swings.”
On the final weekend: “We have a young team with a lot of room to grow, so we need to continue on that path. We’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple of weeks, and I think we can still continue to get better. I’d like to see our defense play well against teams with completely different styles offensively from Hawai’i. Size-wise, Irvine is more similar but they run a lot faster offense. Cal Poly is very fast as well. So that will create different challenges that we’ll have to adjust to. Offensively, we’ll have to figure out how to score points as both teams scramble and play great defense.”