After 16 combined wins the last two seasons, a nine-win summer in 2009 has the women’s volleyball team anticipating the upcoming Big West Conference schedule.
So far, the Aggies have participated in four tournaments and the Causeway battle against Sacramento State last week. They have compiled a record of 9-5 after fourteen matches against some stiff competition.
During those matches, UC Davis relied heavily on its seniors for leadership and the trio of Avreeta Singh, Carson Lowden, and Tori Hooper is delivering so far this season for coach Jamie Holmes.
“My expectations on the seniors are high,” Holmes said. “Carson, Avreeta and Tori have competed in the conference for as long as we’ve been in it. They’ve been around the block.”
Holmes has watched these three seniors turn into leaders this summer and prepare the team for Big West competition.
“So far, they’re doing an excellent job in nurturing the team and setting the bar high,” Holmes said. “In terms of that internal leadership, they’ve come a long, long way. They’re really hungry to do something.“
Holmes is also hungry to do something after tripling the Aggies win total from four in 2007 to 12 last season, her first year at the helm of the program.
In 2009, Holmes is looking for the Aggies to be contenders in the Big West as she leads her team with the driving message: building a champion, one block at a time.“
The Aggies began the season with the Cougar Tournament in Pullman, Wash.
UC Davis took on host Washington State in the first match of the season. UC Davis had a tough time with the eventual tournament champion Cougars as they lost 3-1 to open their season. The lone set that the Aggies won was the third by a score of 25-21. The Aggies exploded for 21 kills in that set.
The Aggies looked more comfortable in their second day of competition where they swept both Portland and Montana State 3-0 to improve their record to 2-1 on the season. Lowden and Singh earned all-tournament honors.
UC Davis then traveled to play at the Mary Jo Wynn Invitational in Springfield, Mo.
The Aggies entered their second tournament of the summer with confidence after going 2-1 in Washington.
Once again the Aggies opened with the host team, this time being Missouri State. Despite an impressive 16 kills and 12 digs from junior opposite Melanie Adams, the Aggies were unable to protect its first-set lead and eventually fell to the Bears in a close match as the Aggies failed to beat the host once again.
The next three matches for the Aggies seemed to be a breeze as they swept Mississippi State on the second day 3-0 with a 50-32 kills advantage led by freshman outside hitter Allison Whitson who tallied 16 and hit an impressive .484 for the Aggies.
It was more of the same for UC Davis in the third and final day as it swept both Memphis and Stephen F. Austin pushing the overall record to 5-2. Lowden and Singh were once again were named to the all-tournament team.
UC Davis then took a trip to the Circus Circus Invitational in Reno, Nev.
The Aggies opened with host Nevada, a team they had not beaten since 1990. The Aggies took the match in four sets and Adams led the Aggies, tallying 16 kills for a .464 hitting average.
On the second day of the competition the Aggies lost to a tough contest with Portland State, 3-1. The Aggies had no answer for the Vikings‘ .344 team hitting percentage in the final two sets. The Aggies ended their third straight tournament by sweeping the opponent, Sam Houston State being the victims this time.
Lowden made her third straight all-tournament team. Junior outside hitter Kayla Varney joined Lowden on the all-tournament team as the Aggies improved to 7-3 on the year.
UC Davis then matched up against rival Sacramento State.
The Aggies played a very tough match but lost to the Hornets in five sets in the volleyball edition of the Causeway Classic.
The Aggies dropped the first two sets 25-21, 25-22 giving the Hornets a very comfortable lead. The Aggies narrowly avoided the sweep in the third set winning 25-23 and pushed the match to a fifth set with a 25-19 victory in the fourth game.
However, the Hornets regrouped and found a way to squeeze out the victory against the Aggies, winning the final set 15-10.
UC Davis was off its mark against the Hornets, as it hit a zero percentage mark in the first set helping to give Sac State the early two sets to none lead.
The final tournament of the summer sent the Aggies to the Billiken Inviational in Saint Louis, Mo.
Once again the Aggies traveled to the Show Me State for another tournament.
They opened by handing Toledo in a sweep, the first loss of the season for the Rockets. Sophomore Katie Denny had six kills, two aces, and six blocks for the Aggies in the match.
On the second day of the tournament the Aggies split with SIU Edwardsville and host No. 22 Saint Louis. The Aggies swept SIUE and then were swept for the first time all year against Saint Louis. Junior Adams earned her first all-tournament honors of the year while senior Singh collected her third.
The Aggies play at home for the first time tonight in its Big West Conference opener against Pacific at Hickey Gym. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.