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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Volleyball drops Pac-10 opener to ASU

    Arizona sophomore opposite player Randy Goodenough hits the ball over the net in the Wildcats four-set loss to ASU Friday in McKale Center. Goodenough recorded 14 kills in the game, second on the team to sophomore outside hitter Brooke Buringruds 15.
    Arizona sophomore opposite player Randy Goodenough hits the ball over the net in the Wildcats’ four-set loss to ASU Friday in McKale Center. Goodenough recorded 14 kills in the game, second on the team to sophomore outside hitter Brooke Buringrud’s 15.

    A loss to any ASU team is tough, but a loss to ASU to kick off Pacific 10 Conference play adds salt to the wound.

    The Arizona women’s volleyball team (9-4, 0-1 Pac-10) dropped three of four games to the Sun Devils (9-3, 1-0) Friday in McKale Center, 30-21, 21-30, 30-25 and 30-28.

    “”This was the best ASU team I’ve seen… in years,”” said UA head coach Dave Rubio. “”We shouldn’t have lost, though.””

    History was on Arizona’s side preceding this match.

    Going into Friday, the Wildcats had beaten the Sun Devils in their last five matches and 11 of the last 13. ASU’s last win in McKale Center was in 1999, magnifying the one-sidedness of the rivalry.

    But numbers of the past meant nothing on Friday night.

    Starting out on a 5-0 run in game one, ASU foreshadowed how the rest of the night would go. The Wildcats didn’t help themselves in the first game despite recording more kills than the Sun Devils (14 -12) by committing 10 more attack errors.

    After splitting the first two games in the match, the Wildcats held a 24-21 lead in the third game, but ASU went on a 9-1 run to steal the game.

    In the fourth game, the Wildcats held a 19-10 lead, but once again they let it slip away.

    “”We just didn’t capitalize when we had the chance,”” said junior middle blocker Dominique Lamb. “”We didn’t put the ball away.””

    Arizona out-hit ASU .098 to .089, but the final scores of each losing game were reflected by the errors made. Rubio called the nine service errors his players made “”uncharacteristic”” of an Arizona team.

    Taking advantage of those errors, ASU claimed seven service aces. The 16 points lost between the service errors and the service aces would have given the Wildcats the exact number of points to win the match.

    “”We want to serve (the ball) tough,”” said freshman outside hitter Whitney Dosty, “”but we don’t know the difference between serving it tough and hitting it away. Serving errors … killed us.””

    After a team timeout in the third game, junior libero Katie Jackels was giving high fives to her teammates on the court, yelling, “”We want it more. We want it more.””

    The adrenaline was so high that Lamb said this was the first match in which she heard the soft-spoken Dosty cheering during gameplay.

    Playing with extra intensity, in part because of whom they were hosting, the Wildcats didn’t get rewarded for how well they played in games two, three and four, despite the errors, Rubio said.

    “”We were the better team 80 percent of the time in the last three games,”” he said. “”We were in charge the entire way, but we got stuck in a few rotations.””

    The team covered the floor well throughout the match, with sophomore libero Brittany Leonard’s 21 digs leading the team.

    They also blocked well, boasting a season-high 21 blocks compared to the Sun Devils’ 13. Lamb had 11 of those blocks.

    The team must mature quickly before it hits the road to face No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 California next weekend.

    “”We need to work on some things”” before next week, Dosty said. “”We need to work on finishing (the game). We covered, we blocked, we did everything well (on Friday). We just need to work on getting the ball in and not making so many errors.””

    Although Rubio understands the emotional pain of this loss, he said that it will make the team stronger in the long run.

    “”You have to go through these situations, and they harden you as a group,”” Rubio said. “”Without that adversity, it doesn’t give you the resultant you need to be a championship-level team.

    “”If it hurts, it should hurt.””

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