The second-largest crowd ever to watch a UC Davis women’s volleyball match came to the Pavilion on Saturday in the hope that they may leave having witnessed history.
The Aggies jumped out to a 2-0 advantage against No. 22 Long Beach State, moving within one set of claiming their first-ever home Big West Conference win.
Then history repeated itself.
The 49ers rallied to take the final three sets, defeating UC Davis 27-29, 22-25, 25-15, 25-14 and 15-13 in front of an announced crowd of 2,012.
“Honestly, I feel very proud of our team,” said head coach Jamie Holmes. “We’re doing some things a lot better then we were doing before. I think it shows a lot of character and a lot of strength for our team to come back every day and work on the things that we need to work on.“
Senior outside hitter Renee Ibekwe led the Aggies with 20 kills and 22 digs. Junior libero Avreeta Singh tallied 16 digs and recorded four aces.
UC Davis falls to 8-7 with the loss, while Long Beach improves to 11-3. The Aggies are 0-2 in Big West play, while Long Beach moves to 1-1.
The Aggies wasted little time in making a first-set statement, jumping out to a 5-0 advantage. UC Davis pushed its lead as far as 13-6 before Long Beach came back to tie things up 16-16.
Ibekwe’s ace put the Aggies up 28-27 before freshman Katie Denny finished things off for UC Davis.
One- and two-point advantages were traded for most of the second set. With things tied at 18 points apiece, the Aggies then scored four consecutive points en route to eventually winning the set. Junior Carson Lowden’s block clinched to set and a 2-0 lead.
Then it was the 49ers‘ turn.
After a pair of back-and-forth sets, Long Beach won the next two by a combined 21 points to tie things at 2-2.
“I’m disappointed on how we let up a little bit in the middle of the game,” Holmes said. “But that’s something that’s a work in progress. We’ll identify that issue and we’ll definitely work on it in practice.“
UC Davis got off to a 7-4 start in the fifth set, but then Long Beach scored seven of the next eight points to build an 11-8 lead.
The Aggies fought back, scoring five of the set’s final nine points, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the 49ers.
“The most important thing to us is that we’re playing to our potential, playing up to our abilities,” Holmes said. “I think in terms of X’s and O’s in volleyball, and the skills that are being executed, I think they’re doing a great job.… I’m definitely proud of the way they came back.“
The Aggies will face Cal Poly in hopes of their first Big West win of the season on Friday in San Luis Obispo, Calif. They will then travel to UC Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos on Saturday.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at email@example.com.