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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, October 25, 2021

UC Davis women’s volleyball enters second half of season with a victory

BRIANA NGO / AGGIE
BRIANA NGO / AGGIE

Aggies come away with 3-1 win against Cal State Fullerton

The second half of Big West Conference gameplay commenced on Saturday, Oct. 22, and the fourth-in-league-ranked Aggies arrived at their home court determined to remain contenders for a postseason playoff position by defending their turf.

Though the game wasn’t without its obstacles, the UC Davis women’s volleyball team fended off the Cal State Fullerton Titans and emerged from the match victorious with set scores of 25-20, 25-20, 26-28 and 25-21.

The Aggies played with a “slow and steady wins the race” style; their consistently accurate serve-receive, evident communication and domination at the net allowing them to cruise through the first two sets with ease.

The Aggies looked to their outside hitters to deliver the heat, with senior Kendall Walbrecht spiking ten kills and sophomore Emily Allen adding an additional seven kills to the scoreboard in the opening two sets.

The Aggies’ defense also impressed, as sophomore libero Malia Bolko easily picked up nine digs to start a trend of reliable defense during the game.

At the beginning of the third set, the atmosphere in the arena was electric with the promise of a quick triumph, but it was quickly muted when back-to-back receiving errors and a service error by the Aggies gave the Titans their first lead in the entire match at 6-5.

BRIANA NGO / AGGIE
BRIANA NGO / AGGIE

The Aggies tried to brush off the mistakes and regroup in order to maintain control of the game, but lack of communication on the court and shaky ball handling offered the Titans a growing cushion of points.

Dynamic plays emerged from both sides of the net, but it became clear that the Titans’ confidence was growing while the UC Davis women’s volleyball team’s stamina was dwindling; at 24 points each, the teams exchanged marks until a service error gave the Titans the third set at 28-26.

BRIANA NGO / AGGIE
BRIANA NGO / AGGIE

Head coach Dan Conners credited the disheartening third-set loss to indecisiveness and unforced errors on UC Davis’ end.

“We were looking to make plays instead of looking for a teammate to make plays,” Conners said. “[I] just sat them down and said we need to change the energy we are playing with, and I can’t do that for them.”

Though the nail-biting third-set loss left the crowd dejected, the Aggies recognized their mishaps and returned to the fourth set with a new approach to wrap up the match with a win.

In spite of a net violation which allowed the Titans to inch forward for an early lead, the Aggies’ gameplay intensified both offensively and defensively as the set progressed. Trailing at 9-11, a well-placed tip by junior middle blocker Aima Eichie, plus an explosive block by Eichie and sophomore middle blocker Kelechi Ohiri revived the energy in the arena, and started the comeback for the UC Davis women’s volleyball team, which was pushed into the lead at 12-11.

The Aggies then began scoring consecutive points through an ace by freshman outside hitter Lauren Matias and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Brianna Karsseboom, respectively, putting pressure on the opposing Titans, who began to make unforced errors.

Though the set didn’t end swiftly, with the Titans occasionally getting a few smartly placed looks, the audience roared as the Aggies pursued victory, ending the match at 25-21 with a kill from Matias.

The win over the Titans marked the first victory in the second half of league play, setting a good tone for the Aggies’ postseason rankings.

“I think in that fourth set the seniors really banded together to motivate the team as much as possible,” Walbrecht said. “We were excited to go into the fourth set and just change our energy and have fun.”

Written by: Alex Arechiga — sports@theaggie.org

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