Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal Poly; vs. UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 9-9 (3-2); Mustangs, 1-16 (0-5); Gauchos, 9-11 (2-3)
Where: Pavilion, Davis; Pavilion, Davis.
When: 7 p.m.; 7 p.m.
Who to Watch: UC Davis head coach Jamie Holmes has been imploring her players to step up in big situations of late, and last week she got her wish. Senior outside hitter Allison Whitson hammered down 19 kills in UC Davis’ dominating three-set win against UC Irvine.
“Allison is one of those players that can be such a stellar leader by performance and we’ve found that she will lead us to a place where we can be victorious,” Holmes said.
The senior had 63 kills in her last three matches. Look for her to stay hot in the upcoming series this Friday and Saturday as the Aggies moves on to two more conference opponents.
Did you know? The last time UC Davis faced their Big West rival Cal Poly early last season, it stretched into a thrilling five-set victory in which four players from the Aggies set or tied career highs in their respective statistical categories.
Current junior Devon Damelio surpassed her prior career high in kills by six, putting away a total of 21 in five sets. Middle blocker Betsy Sedlak, who has since graduated, tied her career best with 19 kills of her own.
Current seniors Caroline Mercado and Allison Whitson each equaled their career highs in digs with 23 and 19, respectively.
Preview: Every team needs a good streak. No this is not a reference to the longstanding “Pajamarino” tradition in which UC Davis students greet alumni in their pajamas before every homecoming game.
Despite the Aggies’ 9-9 record, the team has yet to win more than two matches in a row this year. As such, each game holds more significance as the Aggies chase a Big West Conference title.
This is not to say a streak is a necessary ingredient to every great team, but there is no denying that a team that can catch fire at the right time can do a lot of damage.
UC Davis will look to do just that against opponents UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, coming off their dominant performance against the Anteaters this past Saturday.
“That has got to be one of the better matches that we have played so far this season,” Holmes said. “It was a total team effort.”
Coach Holmes expressed her intent to work on her team’s serving and passing this week during practice. These two facets of their game must be clicking on all cylinders, especially against Santa Barbara who has proven to be a tough opponent over the years.
“We always have a knock-down, drag-out war against Santa Barbara. The game is going to take time,” Holmes said. “For us it is about staying with our process from start to finish.”
The Aggies lost a five-set heartbreaker against the Gauchos last season falling 23-25, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 18-16. Prepare yourself for a war of attrition and let the games begin.
— PK Hattis