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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona volleyball splits Oregon schools

For the fourth straight series, the No. 15 Arizona volleyball team split a two-game Pac-12 Conference series, this time losing to Oregon in straight sets (25-17, 25-12, 25-19) on Wednesday before defeating Oregon State in four sets (25-19, 27-29, 25-15, 25-14) on Friday.

The three previous series saw the Wildcats defeat Utah before losing to Colorado, defeat California before losing to Stanford and defeat Washington State before losing to Washington.

Three of the last four losses have been against then-highly ranked teams, No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 Washington and No. 11 Oregon. This season, the Wildcats have lost to four ranked teams.

The most recent of those losses came against Oregon and had to be frustrating for Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio. Arizona (17-5, 6-4) struggled offensively and hurt itself with attack errors — 22 in total. Arizona senior outside hitter and leader Madi Kingdon struggled in a big way against the Ducks. The senior from Phoenix uncharacteristically finished with half of the team’s attack errors and barely had more kills (13) than attack errors (11).

Add in the team’s .079 hitting percentage and it’s not a surprise Arizona didn’t get more than 19 points in any of the three sets on Wednesday. To make matters worse, Oregon wasn’t that much better offensively; the Ducks simply didn’t have as many attack errors.

Kingdon’s struggles may have hurt Arizona, but the backline of the defense was more troubling. UA sophomore setter Penina Snuka led the team with a respectable 14 digs, but no other Wildcat had more than six digs. The Wildcats were out-dug 53-44, continuing a trend where Arizona loses when out-dug.

In its four Pac-12 losses, Arizona has been out-dug in every game by a combined total of 237-204.

Luckily for Rubio and the Wildcats, they bounced back in a big way against Oregon State. Everything that went wrong against the Ducks completely turned around against the Beavers.

Offensively, it was night and day between Wednesday and Friday. Arizona had 61 kills, 59 assists and a .206 team hitting percentage, while Oregon State labored to 36 kills, 35 assists and a .061 team hitting percentage.

Leading the offensive attack was Kingdon, who redeemed herself in a huge way against the Beavers. Kingdon finished with 27 kills and 21 digs, good enough for her eighth double-double of the season.

Perhaps even more surprising than the offensive uptick was the drastic defense improvement displayed by the backline of Arizona’s defense. Four Wildcats had at least 15 digs with three of those players — Kingdon, Snuka and senior libero Ronni Lewis — racking up at least 21 digs.

As a whole, Arizona finished with 109 digs on Friday, up from just 44 on Wednesday against Oregon. According to a UA volleyball press release, the 109 digs were the sixth most in school history and marked the first time this season that a Pac-12 school recorded over 100 digs.

Up next for Arizona is a home series against Colorado and Utah over the weekend. The recent variation in schedule has the Wildcats deviating from playing Wednesday/Friday series or Friday/Sunday series to now playing a Friday/Saturday series against Colorado and Utah.

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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