Splitting their conference home games in a five-set thriller against UC Irvine and a four-set defeat to Long Beach State, the Aggies now head back on the road for a pair of conference games against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
The Aggies entered their first home conference game with a record of 0-5 when playing in five sets. However, in a back and forth match which saw a total of 14 lead changes, the Aggies prevailed in a 15-12 fifth set. Junior Mary Schroeder, senior Devon Damelio and junior Victoria Lee combined for 36 of 60 kills for UC Davis, while senior Jenny Woolway and junior Megan Lancaster recorded 20 kills each. When asked about the effort of the team against Irvine, assistant coach Hauschild-Willis had nothing but high praise for the players.
“It was great for our team going forward being that it was our first five set win, and it is nice to have that behind us and grow from that experience,” said coach Hauschild-Willis.
The Aggies took their good form of play against a struggling Long Beach State and although they won the first set 25-18, they fell in three consecutive sets. Damelio continued her impressive season though, scoring 15 kills while providing 20 digs and 5 blocks defensively.
Now, the Aggies start their road trip against Cal Poly. Coming in with a 9-8 overall record and a 2-2 conference record, Cal Poly looks to bounce back after consecutive losses to UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i. While UC Davis beat Cal Poly in a convincing fashion last season, the Aggies must watch for outside hitter Chelsea Hardin who has a team-high 186 kills as well as a team-high .312 hitting average.
After the matchup with the Mustangs, the Aggies face off against UC Santa Barbara who have received much praise after toppling fifth ranked Hawai’i in five sets on the road. In one of the biggest surprises of the Big West Conference season, UCSB snapped the Rainbow Wahine’s 41 consecutive conference match win streak, which can be dated back to 2008. Gaucho right-side hitter Katey Thompson was pivotal to their great upset as she finished with 19 kills and defensively adding 11 blocks.
“Similar to Cal Poly, Santa Barbara have done well establishing their defensive and backcourt game and now have the firepower to go along with it,” assistant coach Hauschild-Willis said. “[UC Davis] does have the talent, the personnel and the players to get it done. We can’t back down, not let up, and we can definitely come away with two wins this weekend.”
UC Davis women’s volleyball enters both conference matchups 10-8 overall and 2-3 in conference.
– Shaun Moncada