UC Davis senior outside hitter Lauren Matias becomes the latest Aggie to test the professional waters, signing a contract to compete with LiigaPloki in Finland’s top division, the Mestaruusliiga, the team announced on May 4.
LiigaPloki finished third out of 11 teams during the regular season in 2019-20 with a 21-7 overall record, ending the year just two games back of champion Pölkky Kuusamo. Matias joins fellow Americans Jaelyn Keene, who was a four-year letter winner as a middle blocker at Illinois State and has spent time playing professionally in Austria, and Jaidyn Blanchfield, a four-year letter winner at Northern Iowa, on the roster for 2020-21.
Matias, scheduled to graduate with her degree in human development this spring, was an All-Big West Conference first team selection following the 2019 collegiate campaign, helping the Aggies to their first Division I postseason berth with an appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Tournament — its first postseason contest of any kind since 1996.
The Santa Cruz, Calif., native led the team with 421 kills and 3.76 kills per set, becoming the 11th player in the history of the program to reach 1,000 career kills against Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 15. Her 421 kills were the most since Kaylin Squyres in 2015 (491) and became only the third player to collect 400 kills in a single season at the Division I level along with Squyres and Allison Whitson, who each accomplished the feat twice.
Matias is the latest in a line of recent Aggies who have gone on to professional careers in Europe, following in the footsteps of former UC Davis standouts Kendall Walbrecht (Germany), Kaylin Squyres (Switzerland), Lindsay Dowd (Germany, Switzerland, and the Philippines), Betsy Sedlak (Denmark), and Allison Whitson (France).