The Aggies may struggle on the road at times, but when they play at the Pavilion they are lights out.
UC Davis beat Big West Conference opponents UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly over the weekend, moving their record to 8-0 at home this season.
“We love playing at home,” said senior Betsy Sedlak. “We feel comfortable here and the crowd is amazing.”
With the wins, the Aggies move into a tie for second in the Big West with a conference record of 6-5.
The Aggies also moved over 20 wins on the season with a record of 20-6. Coach Jamie Holmes believes that could help them get in to the NCAA Tournament.
“When it comes to the NCAA,” she said, “they take a look to see that you got over 20 wins. The fact that we did well at home this weekend definitely works in our favor.”
Friday — UC Davis 3, UC Santa Barbara 1
Friday’s match was a barn-burner.
The Aggies found themselves behind early, after losing the first set 25-20. The second set was hotly contested throughout, but UC Davis finally broke through on its third set-point to win the frame 27-25 and even the match at one set apiece.
After taking the third set 25-23, the Aggies had the Gauchos’ backs against the wall entering the fourth set.
UCSB responded early, jumping out to a 20-14 lead, but UC Davis would not go quietly. The Aggies rallied to even things at 24, placing extra pressure back on the Gauchos.
After several hard-fought points, UC Davis finally tallied the match-point on their fifth attempt — beating UCSB 31-29 in the set, 3-1 in the match
“I was happy to see that we stayed so calm in that final set,” said junior Valerie Brain. “We were really poised. It was awesome to get a win like this.”
Brain led the Aggies with 15 kills, while junior Allison Whitson notched 14.
Junior Caroline Mercado paced UC Davis with 18 digs and sophomore Jenny Woolway posted 59 assists.
Sunday — UC Davis 3, Cal Poly 2
Saturday’s game was a war of attrition.
The Aggies fell behind early for the second straight day, dropping the first set 25-19, but responded in a dramatic second set to win 30-28.
The third set was all Aggies as UC Davis controlled the net from the start and took a 25-18 win to give them the advantage, two sets to one.
The fourth frame was a battle.
For the second straight night the Aggies found themselves trailing 20-14. It looked like the Aggies might have a chance to come back as they cut Cal Poly’s lead to 23-22, but it was not enough as the Mustangs took the frame 25-23 to force a fifth set.
The final frame was UC Davis’ time to shine.
UC Davis never trailed, and sealed the victory with a 15-8 fifth-set win.
Sophomore Devon Damelio was a key part to the Aggies’ success, setting a career high with 21 kills.
“[Damelio] was just clutch,” Holmes said. “We just needed to get her the ball, and she was going to swing with all her might. It’s a real momentum-getter to have someone swinging like that.”
Sedlak also matched her career high with 19 kills.
Mercado again led the Aggies with 23 digs, while Whitson and Woolway added 19 apiece.
The Aggies will return to the road this week as they face Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.