Whenever Queen’s “We Are the Champions” is heard at home after a win, fans know it was a big one.
When the last bulb on the scoreboard was lit, the Aggie faithful had seen just that: a four-set victory over the first-place Cal Poly Mustangs.
“I told the girls before the match that we had nothing to lose,” head coach Jamie Holmes said. “We’re playing the top team in the conference and we need to take a lot of risks – and I think we did exactly that.“
The win moves UC Davis to 11-13 overall and 3-8 in Big West Conference play, while the Mustangs fall to 13-9, 8-3. It was the second of two games this weekend for Aggies, who lost to UC Santa Barbara (10-12, 6-5) on Friday.
Friday – UCSB 3, UC Davis 0
UCSB brought a storm to the Pavilion on a rainy Halloween night.
Gauchos outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin recorded 13 kills and hit .462 for the match to lead UCSB to a 25-20, 25-15, 25-11 sweep over UC Davis.
The Gauchos‘ team hitting percentage stood at .290 while the Aggies offense struggled to a .031 clip on the night.
The lone bright spot for UC Davis was sophomore Kayla Varney, who led the Aggies with 18 digs. She also had a pair of blocks and chipped in with seven kills at a .235 hitting rate.
Saturday – UC Davis 3, Cal Poly 1
The UC Davis fans got their treat a day late as the Aggies upset the Mustangs 18-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22.
“It was just really exciting,” Holmes said. “In terms of execution, our players were really firing on all cylinders.”
Three Aggies held double-digit kill totals: Varney (18), sophomore opposite hitter Melanie Adams (13) and senior Renee Ibekwe (12).
In the first game, Cal Poly earned a decisive victory, holding the lead the entire set. The Aggies slumped to a -.034 team hitting percentage.
But that would be the first and only win for the Mustangs.
UC Davis opened the second set strong and never looked back. An early 12-9 lead for the Aggies was made possible by a couple kills from Ibekwe. The Mustangs closed the gap and tied it up at 15, but Adams fired off three of her kills to finish off Cal Poly at 25-20.
The third game was all UC Davis, as Cal Poly never came closer than two until the Mustangs tied it up at 16. Ibekwe, Adams and Varney all contributed to close the game strong while junior Carson Lowden recorded 13 of her 43 assists.
“Carson did such a great job,” Holmes said. “And Kayla brought a lot of energy to the court. I thought her energy was just awesome for us on offense.“
The third set was a hitting spectacle for both clubs, as the Aggies hit .432 with 21 kills while the Mustangs hit .480 with 14 kills.
The fourth and final set of the night started off in favor of the Aggies 12-8 thanks to freshman Katie Denny, who launched three kills and recorded one of her eight blocks for the match. Kylie Atherstone for Cal Poly kept it close at 14-14, spiking down seven of her 12 kills in the fourth set.
But despite Atherstone’s hot hitting, the Aggies opened up a four-point lead after a touch shot by Ibekwe recorded the 21st point.
A well placed line-shot by Adams brought the Aggies to a pivotal set point, where Varney delivered the knockout punch on a spike that trailed off a pair of Mustang blockers.
UC Davis snapped a seven-match skid to Cal Poly with the win.
The Aggies next compete Friday at 7 p.m. as they play host to UC Irvine (12-11, 7-3).
MATT MILLER can be reached at email@example.com.