Teams: UC Davis vs. No. 23 UC Irvine and UC Riverside
Records: UC Davis (16-7, 7-2); UC Irvine (17-4, 7-2); UC Riverside (3-16, 1-8)
Where: Upper Hickey Gymnasium
When: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Sophomore middle blocker Katie Denny played tough in the middle for the Aggies last Saturday, leading the team with six blocks in the 26-24, 25-19, 25-17 sweep of Cal State Northridge at the Matadome.
The Lake Forest, Calif. native had nine kills and only two errors on 17 swings for a .412 hitting average on the night. Denny will need to be on top of her game this weekend as well, as the Aggies face one of the best teams in the country.
Did you know? The Aggies are tied for first place in the Big West with No. 23 UC Irvine. Both teams stand at 7-2 and the Aggies will be looking to overtake that first-place spot this weekend as they take on the national powerhouse Anteaters.
Preview: UC Davis is riding a four-game winning streak coming into this weekend, beating conference foe Cal State Northridge on the road last Saturday.
The match against Irvine Friday night is something the Aggies have been waiting for and with first place on the line the stakes have never been higher.
“Everybody is super-excited for Friday,” said head coach Jamie Holmes. “The pressure is on Irvine. They’re the team coming into our gym. They’re ranked. They’re talked about. The expectations are high for them, while we’re in our gym with our friends and our atmosphere. For us, we don’t have anything to lose.”
The Aggies have everything to gain though, as a victory against the Anteaters would give UC Davis sole possession of first place and a step closer toward a Big West conference championship.
The Aggies will also be taking on UC Riverside on Saturday night. The Highlanders are a team that should not be taken lightly despite their record. UC Riverside would like very much to be spoilers to the Aggies otherwise outstanding season.
Holmes wants to see a strong crowd for the game Friday night to support the Aggies and their quest for first place in the Big West.
“I want to pack the gym,” Holmes said. “I hope to see the band and some rowdy students. When we were down there [in Irvine], their fans were downright rude. I hope we can return the favor, but do it in good spirit by keeping it classy.”
– Kyle Hyland