Coach Jamie Holmes wants the Aggies to be a NCAA Tournament caliber team.
UC Davis sure played the part this weekend.
The Aggies (10-4, 2-0) topped both Pacific and UC Riverside on the road to gain an early edge in Big West Conference play.
“We’re beating the teams we need to beat,” Holmes said. “Both games were good performances on our part.”
Sophomore Allison Whitson led the Aggies with 34 kills over the weekend. Senior Kayla Varney had 49 digs for the two games.
Thursday – UC Davis 3, Pacific 2
After two sets, it looked like the Aggies were on cruise control.
After another two and a half sets, it was all Pacific.
However when all the dust settled, UC Davis found itself victorious.
A Katie Denny tip fell onto Pacific open court to cap off a wild fifth set that saw the Aggies down 9-3.
“It was an amazing comeback to win the fifth,” Holmes said. “We’ve always been a fifth set team.”
The first two sets were all UC Davis as the Aggies cruised to 25-22 and 25-16 wins.
The Tigers stormed back in the third and fourth set, winning 20-25 and 13-25. The fifth set, however, was the most exciting.
“I think a really good team plays it’s hardest in the fifth set,” Holmes said. “When the going gets tough, we draw on the strength of being a good team.”
Junior middle blocker Betsy Sedlak continued her strong play, hitting 9 of 15 for a .467 percentage. Sedlak is hitting .487, good for fourth in the nation.
Friday – UC Davis 3, UC Riverside 1
The Aggies continued their strong play in Friday’s match against UC Riverside.
UC Davis made its shots and played strong defense to top the Highlanders 25-20, 25-19, 19-25, 25-22.
Whitson had 16 kills and Varney matched a career high with 27 digs in the victory.
“It was a good performance from everyone,” Holmes said. “We are a steady team and have the ability to control a match from every position. We’re balanced on both sides.”
With the win, the Aggies won their fifth match in seven days. Despite the strong momentum, Holmes is looking forward to the time off.
“I think our kids are a little tired,” Holmes said. “To play and travel as much as we’ve had puts a lot of wear and tear on our players. We’re going to relax and recuperate and prepare for the rest of the season.”
With its strong play over the past couple weeks, the Aggies are at an all-time high in Relative Power Index at 43. Holmes believes this is due to the Aggies beating the teams they need to beat and playing consistent volleyball.
UC Davis comes home for two more Big West matches this weekend. The Aggies match up against Cal State Northridge on Friday and UC Irvine on Saturday.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.