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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Witts’ Arizona beach volleyball careers come to a close at Pac-12 pairs tournament

    Rebecca Noble
    Blocker Madison Witt (23) makes a dig during Arizona’s 4-1 win against New Mexico at Bear Down Beach on Friday, March 31, 2017.

    Arizona beach volleyball’s Madison and Mckenna Witt closed out their college careers on Saturday in an emotional loss against USC in the Pac-12 pairs tournament.

    “It was really special,” Madison Witt said about her last game at Arizona. “We really took in a lot of the moments and cherished them. We took a lot of time to look around and appreciate what was happening. It was overwhelming, but so beautiful at the same time.”

    The senior twins are a part of the foundation of Arizona beach volleyball’s program, which just wrapped up its fourth season.

    The Witts began the second day of the Pac-12 Pairs Tournament by defeating Washington’s Crissy Jones and Tia Scambray. The Huskies’ pair has had the Witts number this year. In two previous matchups, the Witts failed to even steal a set from the Washington pair.

    But, the Witts looked like a different team on Saturday.

    “We knew coming in we were going to make it really hard on them to beat us three times,” Madison Witt said. “I think they felt the pressure a little more this time. We just stuck to our game plan and played our game.”

    The Witts had the block going, were finding the sand with every swing and their defense was the kind of scrappy that frustrates opponents. Also, you know luck is on your side when even your mistakes are scoring points. A missed set over the net dropped on Washington’s side for a point.

    The Witts went on to an easy 21-13, 21-14 win.

    “Madison and Mckenna executed beautifully and really played liberated volleyball and played tremendous,” Arizona head coach Steve Walker said.

    The road to the pairs championship got harder after Washington for the Witts. They faced the reigning NCAA Champions, USC’s Sarah Claes and Kelly Hughes. The Witts are good friends with Claes and Hughes, but have never beaten them. Before the match, they were trying on each other’s sunglasses and giving each other piggyback rides.

    “Sarah and Kelly are awesome,” Madison Witt said. “We train with them in the summer, we went to Estonia with them last summer and we’re actually really close. We love them. We love playing them. We would love to beat them. I think one day you’ll see that, so be ready.”

    That day didn’t come on Saturday.

    The Witts hung with Claes and Hughes for the first set, but missed serves and shanked passes gave the advantage to USC, 21-15. In the second, the Witts scored their first three points on powerful swings, but followed it up with three consecutive missed serves. The Witts maintained a lead for most of the set, but the errors piled up late. They lost 21-18. Claes and Hughes went on to repeat as NCAA champs.

    After the match, the Witts held back tears as family members, teammates and coaches hugged them. Teammate Olivia Macdonald couldn’t control her tears from falling; she’d been playing under the Witts’ guidance for three years.

    “Even though they didn’t win, they went out with a bang,” Walker said. “Really showed what hard work, dedication and coachability looks like. They’ve been the face of this program for four years, and will be the team that every team be compared to from now until the end of my time here.”

    The Witts will continue to play beach volleyball this summer at AVP events, then return indoor at Cal Baptist University next year. After receiving their master’s degrees from Cal Baptist, they’ll most likely hit the sand once again, keeping an eye out for a rematch with Claes and Hughes.

    Follow Nikki Baim on Twitter.

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