The Aggies are entering the stretch run of the season.
With just five games left on the docket, every serve, spike and dig will be crucial.
Women’s volleyball coach Jamie Holmes has one word for this consistent play: rhythm.
“Once we’re in a good rhythm we’re pretty difficult to beat,” Holmes said. “We have to keep focused and play good volleyball.”
UC Davis did play good volleyball Friday night in its win over UC Irvine. However, Saturday’s match was a different story.
With the weekend split, the Aggies sit at 16-8 overall and 7-4 in Big West Conference play.
Friday – UC Davis 3, UC Irvine 0
Of the Aggies’ 16 wins this season, they have swept their opponent in straight sets eight times.
Friday’s win was no exception as UC Davis dominated UC Irvine for its fourth straight win and second straight sweep.
“We played great,” Holmes said. “We executed and passed very well. We followed our system and put pressure on [UC] Irvine to take them out of system.”
Junior Betsy Sedalak and sophomore Allison Whitson had the biggest impact of the Aggies win as the duo had 12 and 17 kills, respectively.
The remarkable part of Sedlak and Whitson’s performance was in their hitting percentage. Sedlak hit a remarkable 64 percent to raise her conference leading hitting percentage to 42 percent. Whitson also hit very efficiently with a percentage of 54 for the match.
“When you have attackers hitting that well, you’re hard to beat,” Holmes said.
UC Davis never trailed in the match with the only tie coming at 22-22 in the third set. The Aggies would go on and take the final three points in the third and take the match.
“We had to come out of the locker room strong and that’s exactly what we did,” Holmes said. “We were focused throughout the match and continually put pressure on [UC] Irvine.”
Saturday – Cal State Northridge 3, UC Davis 2
While the Aggies were able to jog through Friday’s match, Saturday’s was anything but a walk in the park.
The match started off promising for UC Davis as it took the first set handily 25-10. The next four weren’t that easy.
The Matadors rallied to take the second set 25-21. The seesaw battle continued as the Aggies took the third 25-19.
The Aggies were three points away from taking the fifth and deciding set, but the Matadors stormed back to take four of the final five points to win the fifth game and the match.
UC Davis’ four-game winning streak and three-game Big West winning streak were snapped in the loss.
The Aggies had three players in double digits for kills with Whitson leading the charge at 17. Senior Kayla Varney posted 14 kills while Sedlak added 12. Varney also added 19 digs, good for the team lead.
Freshman Jenny Woolway had game high 51 assists, putting her at 954 for the season, second in conference.
With the loss, UC Davis’ hopes for a Big West title and a second straight 20 -win season hit a major snag. The Aggies will have to win four of their next five to reach 20 wins and put themselves in a good spot for a league championship.
Reaching the feat will be anything but a cakewalk, however. UC Davis will match up against the top five teams in the Big West to close out the season.
Holmes believes the Aggies can perform well down the stretch as long as they play consistent volleyball.
“If we continue to do a solid job in the middle and on the outsides, we can do well,” Holmes said. “When we get into a good rhythm it’s fun and exciting to watch.”
UC Davis will match up against first place Cal State Fullerton and third place Long Beach State at home next weekend.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at email@example.com.