The UC Davis women’s volleyball team has opened their run at the Big West championship on a strong note.
Although the Aggies endured a rocky start at the beginning of the season, they have come away with strong wins against powerful teams, yielding a boost of confidence and energy in the team’s dynamic performance.
UC Davis (8-8) opened its season with three matches at the Blue Raider Bash tournament in Tennessee, losing two against Furman and Alabama-Birmingham and winning one against Middle Tennessee State. Subsequently, in the next four games, the Aggies went 2-2 in matchups with Utah, Middle Tennessee State, UAB and Furman.
“During non-conference, we played with a lot of different lineups,” said coach Jamie Holmes. “We tried a lot of different personalities to figure out the best group for the Big West conference play.”
The results of the variance and experimentation in lineups shone through in the Aggies’ first Big West Conference match against fierce competitor Pacific. Junior outside hitter Devon Damelio tallied 15 kills while sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee posted a career-high 10 blocks, resulting in a four-set upset.
As the progression toward the optimal lineup for Big West competition continues, the women have focused their attention on core elements of their game. One of the Aggies’ focuses is to improve their serve and receive and first-ball contact. An improvement in the reception line and being able to receive serves would boost the women’s overall performance and allow the top players to take control of the plays.
Last week, the women focused on the defensive side of the game, the results of which were displayed in the strong defensive success against Pacific on Saturday night with five blocks.
Although the Aggies’ overall record currently stands at 8-8, the team showed no signs of weakness against Pacific. Damelio tallied 15 kills while sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee hit 0.500 and posted a career-high 10 blocks to lead UC Davis to a four-set upset over Pacific in a match at the Pavilion last Saturday night.
Subsequently, the Aggies improved their conference record to 2-0 in a thriller against UC Riverside. Damelio tallied a team-leading 18 kills while senior Allison Whitson added 15 kills and a career-high 23 digs to help UC Davis hold onto a five-set win over the Highlanders on Friday night.
Unfortunately, the women fell to Cal State Fullerton in yet another gripping five-setter. Although they maintained a 2-1 match lead, the Aggies struggled in the fourth set with a 0.062 average. Whitson and sophomores Valerie Rain and Victoria Lee each tied or set career highs in kills.
Next, the Aggies will embark on a two-game road trip against Long Beach State and UC Irvine this weekend. UC Davis faces off with the 49ers on Friday and then the Anteaters on Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m.
“There are no teams in the conference that we will be able to take lightly. It’s really going to be about us continuing to improve and find our personality on the court,” Holmes said.
One of Holmes’ primary goals for the season is very simple and fundamental to her idea of success of the women’s volleyball team.
“My goal for this season is for us to play to our potential,” she said. “If we play a tremendous game and leave with a loss, that’s still a victory in my book.”
VEENA BANSAL can be reached at email@example.com.