Teams: UC Davis at Long Beach State; at Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies, 18-3 (4-2); 49ers 10-6 (4-2); Titans 8-9 (3-2)
Where: Walter Pyramid – Long Beach, Calif.; Titan Gym – Fullerton, Calif.
When: Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Freshman Valerie Brain has provided a spark for the Aggies over the last several weeks. The Glendora, Calif. native has recorded 187 kills this year, including 22 in last week’s matches against UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge.
Did you know? With a pair of wins this weekend the 2011 Aggies will become the fastest team to reach 20 victories in school history. The current mark is held by the 1991 and 1992 teams, which each reached 20 wins in 24 games. Should UC Davis go unbeaten this weekend, they would tally their 20th win against Cal State Fullerton in just their 23rd contest of the season.
Preview: Friday’s matchup with Long Beach State is a game the UC Davis players have had circled on the calendar for awhile.
The 49ers have been the class of the Big West Conference over the past several years, and coach Jamie Holmes knows her team is excited to face them.
“If you asked our players which match they’re most looking forward to, they’d say Long Beach [State],” she said. “I know they’re very focused and excited about it.”
Coming away victorious will be no easy task, however.
Friday’s match represents the most difficult challenge remaining on UC Davis’ regular-season schedule. If the Aggies want to come away with a win, they need to focus on three main areas of their game.
“If we want to have a chance against Long Beach [State], or [Cal State] Fullerton for that matter, we need to be tough on the service line,” Holmes said. “We need to serve tough, we need to get into our system and we need to block balls.”
Victories this weekend could be key for UC Davis’ chances to win their conference. Big West teams are just 7-17 in conference road games this season, and Holmes believes the league champion will be determined by which team can play well away from home.
“Our conference race will come down to who can win on the road,” she said. “We have a solid weekend ahead of us, and we’ll have to play well.”
– Trevor Cramer