Teams: UC Davis at UC Irvine; at Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies 15-7 (6-3); Anteaters 5-17 (1-8); Matadors 9-15 (2-7)
Where: Crawford Court – Irvine, Calif.; The Matadome -Northridge, Calif.
When: Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Junior middle blocker Betsy Sedlak was a dominating force in the Aggies’ three set sweep over UC Riverside last Saturday.
The Pleasanton, Calif. native had eight blocks – seven of which came in the first set – in the win on Saturday. Sedlak also raised her Big West Conference leading hitting percentage to .422, good for seventh in the nation.
Did you know? UC Irvine was the preseason pick to finish second in the Big West. The Anteaters are a little shy of that mark – in eighth place. UC Irvine has struggled in conference play with just one win over league opponents.
Preview: With seven more games on the schedule, just one game separates UC Davis from first place in the Big West.
Unfortunately, there are four teams ahead of the Aggies.
Coach Jamie Holmes has spoken of the parity in the Big West all season and the closeness of the conference is evident by looking at the current standings.
For the Aggies to topple over the four teams ahead of them, Holmes believes UC Davis will have to play smart, consistent volleyball.
“The second half of conference play is all about peaking at the right time,” Holmes said. “We need to manage our bodies and stay focused at practice and the games.”
Holmes believes the Aggies can make a push at first place if they also stay healthy and work hard in practice.
UC Davis will make its run for the top starting this weekend when it takes on UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge. The Aggies topped both squads earlier in the year at The Pavilion.
The Anteaters and Matadors have struggled this season. The two squads have combined for only three conference victories and 14 total wins on the season. UC Davis has 15 wins.
Holmes wants to ensure her team won’t take the Anteaters or Matadors lightly despite their struggles.
“We can’t disrespect either team’s effort,” Holmes said. “Both teams can give us problems if we don’t respect their abilities. We need to give our best efforts if we hope to win.”
– Jason Alpert