The Aggie women’s volleyball team failed to extend their winning streak to three games, but still managed to split the weekend series, providing gritty matches and graceful sweeps for the large fan turnout.
Friday kicked off as anticipated — with a tough battle against UC Santa Barbara. UC Davis fought hard but ultimately lost the duel 25-21, 20-25, 25-11, 25-23.
Redemption could not come quick enough, as Cal Poly came to town the following night. This time, the Aggies were ready, making it a quick sweep in three games, 25-21, 25-11, 25-20.
Senior outside hitter Allison Whitson finished the weekend with a total of 18 kills while junior setter Jenny Woolway served up 73 assists of her own over the weekend.
The outstanding play of sophomore middle blockers Victoria Lee and Katie Quinn provided fuel for the Aggies all weekend, tallying a combined 15 blocks. Lee had 17 kills while Quinn had seven of her own for the weekend.
Friday — UC Santa Barbara 3, UC Davis 1
UC Davis coach Jamie Holmes predicted a marathon of a match against the Gauchos, and she was right on the money.
The box score will provide the stats, but what it can’t display is the quality of each rally that kept both teams on their toes throughout the match.
Santa Barbara came out aggressive, taking advantage of the Aggies’ shaky passing and timid serving.
“We want to improve the overall tone of how we’re playing the game in terms of our character and our personalities and presence,” Holmes said. “We were really quiet and isolated like six individuals on the court.”
In the second set, UC Davis began to gel as they rallied for the win behind the play of sophomore outside hitter Valerie Brain, who came alive with five kills in the second set.
Each rally seemed to take on a life of its own as each crushing hit turned into a spectacular dig by the opposite team.
Ultimately, UCSB’s aggressive attack paid off as their confidence helped them withstand a late surge by the Aggies in the fourth and final set.
Saturday — UC Davis 3, Cal Poly 0
Cal Poly may be a disappointing 1-18 for the year, but there was nothing lackluster about the Aggies’ three-game sweep on Saturday night.
For Lee and Quinn, it was their chance to establish themselves as legitimate pieces of the Aggies’ arsenal.
“They are young middles; this is their first time starting,” Holmes said. “Every time they play they learn about out-of-system play and about how to insert themselves out of system. That’s the learning curve for any young middle. But when we’re on and they are in system, it is really fun.”
Perhaps the biggest difference in the two games this weekend involved the Aggies’ ability to run the offense as designed by Holmes.
The Aggies improved their side-out percentage to an impressive 71 percent on Saturday as opposed to their disappointing 50 percent efficiency on Friday against UCSB.
The Aggies’ offensive game plan will be put to the ultimate test when they travel next Thursday against the number-one team in the conference, Hawaii.
“We’re going to have to have a mindset that we can go there and win,” Holmes said. “Hawaii averages 6,000 to 7,000 fans per game, so we’re going to have to enjoy that and love it.”
PK HATTIS can be reached at email@example.com.