Home is definitely sweet for the UCI Women’s Volleyball team, who defeated non-conference opponent UC Davis on Oct. 8 in Crawford Court, 30-25, 30-12, 30-22, to remain unbeaten at home this season, extending their home record to 12-0, their second -longest home winning streak in team history.
The struggling Aggies (1-13) made the contest interesting in the first set.
Led by senior outside hitter Kate Wilton and sophomore outside hitter Rachel Keener, UC Davis went up 18-16 before Irvine (12-4, Big West 5-2) settled down and rallied off six straight points to go ahead for good.
UCI Head Coach Charlie Brande was glad to see that his team did not get nervous and falter at the beginning of the game.
‘They played a great first game against us,’ Brande said. ‘They dug a lot of balls, and they played with great inspiration. I was happy because I thought we did a good job of taking care of business.’
Brande was especially delighted with his team’s defense against the Aggies’ main offensive weapons.
‘We knew that [Wilton and Keener] were the two that would get the most sets, so we tried to stay in front of those guys,’ Brande said. ‘We didn’t do as good of a job as we wanted to early, but late in the match, we were very good.’
In the second set, sophomore outside hitter Trisha White, All-American senior outside hitter Kelly Wing and junior outside hitter Whitney Pavlik were too much for Davis, and they led the Anteaters to an easy 30-12 set win.
During a ralley in the middle of the second set, Wing
added insult to injury by spiking a ball towards Davis’ senior libero Mary McCleeland, who had no time to react but instead had to absorb the impact of the ball hitting squarely on her left shoulder.
‘Kelly is good against whoever we play. She just took care of business,’ Brande said. ‘Whitney has played the game for a number of years, and she is a very, very experienced player. Her experience and her ability to make shots allowed her to make a lot of kills in the second game.’
Senior middle blocker Sami Cash said, ‘I think it was just really fun to have all the freshmen come in and have us rally around them.’
The victory came a day after the Anteaters made a statement to the Big West Conference by stunning 23rd-ranked Long Beach State in four sets.
‘[Long Beach State] was very good physically, and very well coached,’ Brande said. ‘For us to really dominate the match as we did, both offensively and defensively, was because of our ability to work very, very hard.’
‘That was awesome,’ Cash said about the victory over Long Beach State.
With victory in sight against Davis, Brande took out Wing and senior setter Ashlie Hain in the third set to allow Conom to gain some experience before she assumes the starting role next season.
‘I really wanted to get a chance to let Christa Conom set, who will be our setter next year,’ Brande explained. ‘Just to get and have this kind of experience.’
Although the Anteaters are undefeated at home, they have yet to win on the road. Brande knows that in order to stay competitive in the Big West, his team has to convert wins at home into wins on the road.
‘The team that wins the league, who finishes the highest, is the one that is going to pull off an upset on the road,’ Brande said. ‘We’ve kind of found that we just need to go and play hard. We had some big wins on the road last year. The experience that we have from last year, I think, will carry over and hopefully allow us to win some of those games on the road this year.’
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