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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Column: If they only knew

When the Pilgrims and Native Americans got together hundreds of years ago, they had a magical feast, known today as Thanksgiving.

On this day we eat and give thanks – and watch football of course – but more importantly we give thanks.

Centuries later I will give thanks to a quarter filled of UC Davis sports, something I’m sure that those at the first Thanksgiving would never have imagined possible.

Football frenzy

Beat Cal Poly. Check. Win the Great West Conference title. Check. Beat Sacramento State. Ch… – well, let’s just pretend there was a competent referee in the capital city that day.

Had the Aggies been able to check that final one off their list, they would have been able to accomplish all three of coach Bob Biggs’ preseason goals.

Nonetheless, UC Davis still had a successful season as it posted a 3-1 conference mark and had its first winning season since 2006.

Senior Chris Carter became the Aggies’ all-time leading receiver and a new style of offense was created – call it “wildcat,” “gator” or “mad cow.”

More importantly, with losses at Fresno State and Boise State, UC Davis realized where it wants the program to be and how to get it there.

“We want our program to be at this level and go beyond this level too,” said co-captain Mike Morales after the Aggies’ loss to the Bulldogs.

“In order to create that kind of excitement,” said coach Bog Biggs, “you have to win.”

The Aggies are on their way as they finished out the 2009 campaign at 6-5.

Bump, set, win

For the first time since 1996, UC Davis women’s volleyball completed the season with 20 wins (20-10).

UC Davis also beat Pacific and UC Santa Barbara for the first time in school history on its way to an 11-5 Big West Conference record and a tie for second place.

The Aggies also defeated then ranked No. 23 UC Irvine at Hickey Gym to overtake first place in league on Oct. 30.

UC Davis will lose two four-year starters-libero Avreeta Singh and setter Carson Lowden – but a host of offensive attackers will return, including opposite hitter Melanie Adams.

“I’m feeling a lot of pride for our seniors,” said coach Jamie Holmes. “Something that they worked hard on this season was changing the culture of a team, stepping to the plate and being good leaders. We’re going to miss the senior class.”

Kickin’ it

One year after the Aggies scored only 17 goals on the season (1.00 average), they increased that production to 28 (1.65 average).

The increasing in goal scoring was led by senior Rochelle VanBuskirk who scored 13 goals – four of which were game winners.

She led the Big West Conference in goals and points and received first team all-league honors.

The spike in goal production was something that VanBuskirk attributes to overall team chemistry.

“I feel like this year we [were] just connecting more,” VanBuskirk said mid-way through the season. “We [were] playing more as a team.”

She had her best single-game performance against Eastern Washington on Sept. 13 when she tallied seven points – two goals and three assists – in a 6-1 win.

What’s new?

After a 27-year hiatus, women’s field hockey returned to UC Davis.

With a roster made up almost entirely of freshmen, the Aggies began the season with a 3-0 mark.

“The kids knew they had nothing to lose and that a lot of teams were going to underestimate them,” said coach Vianney Campos.

“They went out and played every single game 100 percent knowing that they had the ability to win and it paid off.”

Despite finishing the season on a 15-game slide, Campos believes that she has what it takes to develop this young program.

“I have all the enthusiasm and motivation to get it done and to build a program with a solid foundation,” Campos said. “I see them as obstacles and challenges. I love meeting those challenges and overcoming them.”

MAX ROSENBLUM is thankful for a quarter packed full of UC Davis sports. Tell him what you are thankful for at sports@theaggie.org.

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