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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats stick fork in Devils with 3-0 sweep in McKale

    UA setter Paige Weber swats the ball in Wednesday nights 3-0 win against ASU in McKale Center. The Wildcats improved to 12-2 on the season, as they beat the Sun Devils for the first time since 2005.
    UA setter Paige Weber swats the ball in Wednesday night’s 3-0 win against ASU in McKale Center. The Wildcats improved to 12-2 on the season, as they beat the Sun Devils for the first time since 2005.

    It was in the second set of volleyball’s Duel in the Desert when ASU seemed to have a glimmer of hope.

    Then again, maybe not.

    ASU did, in fact, peak in its performance in the second set when it had the upper hand with a score of 15-5. Once UA redshirt freshman Kaylen Bannister was subbed in for Arizona, however, she immediately crushed a quick set out of the middle, and it was all downhill for the Sun Devils. After the middle blocker stepped out onto the hardwood, Arizona pulled ahead to crush ASU 20-5.

    The run sparked a win for the No. 25 Wildcats (12-2, 2-1 Pacific 10 Conference) over the Sun Devils (10-6, 1-2) in straight sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-10), the first time Arizona has knocked off ASU since 2005.

    “”That was definitely the spark,”” said sophomore Paige Weber. “”Nothing was working on our side, then she came in and just got up and put it away and I was like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s just do it.’ That was definitely the spark that started the fire; Kaylen always is.””

    The rival teams then split up to their separate locker rooms for the intermission, and UA head coach Dave Rubio had a lot of good things to say. He started his locker room speech by reminding his squad to focus on each play they are involved in now, rather then dwelling on things in the past.

    “”Whether you’re down 1-10 or up 10-1, it doesn’t matter,”” Rubio said. “”It’s about you guys staying on task and not worrying about the last play, whether it was a great play or a bad play. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Who can predict the future?””

    The head coach was proud of the squad’s comeback and had his eyes on the next 45 minutes at the same time.

    “”You guys did a terrific job in that game,”” Rubio continued. “”But now, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s time to wipe the slate clean. We’re at 0-0. Now it takes 25 points and one more game to win the match, regardless if it’s the third game or the fifth game.””

    The possibility of going to five games was generous of Rubio to say because the Wildcats came out of the locker room and had nothing but fire to feed the Sun Devils in their third and final set.

    The heat sparking back and forth between the net was obvious. UA assistant head coach Steve Walker noticed, but said there was definitely more rivalry felt among the players than coaches.

    “”What we were trying to do as coaches was make sure the girls were executing and playing as if we’re not playing against ASU, but just playing against another six players,”” Walker said. “”If we can keep our emotions in check and play as if we play every day in practice, we’re going to be better off in a match like this.””

    The assistant head coach said the reason for the slow start in the second set was due to players rushing too much and making too many mistakes.

    “”It’s a good rivalry; it’s going to be heated every time,”” he explained. “”And it’s really hard to manage your emotions, so I think that getting our rhythm back was one of the biggest things tonight.””

    Out of all the positive things done in the match, there were still things some players would have done differently.

    Senior Brooke Buringrud said the biggest flaw of the night was that the pin players were blocked too often.

    “”I think our attackers need to work on picking better shot selections when there’s a double block in front of us,”” Buringrud said. “”If I were to play that game again, I would hit higher off the hands or to deep corners instead of trying to hit the ball down.””

    Rubio agreed but didn’t seem to mind the errors here and there.

    “”I just stand on the sideline and cheerlead the group,”” the head coach said. “”It was nice to be able to stop the bleeding with ASU. It’s been two years since we beat them and I was proud of how we played.””

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