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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball team bounces back at home against Colorado

Megan Ewing
Women’s volleyball celebrates scoring on Stanford during their game on Sunday, Feb. 7 at McKale. After sweeping the cardinals on Friday, the cats defeated them again, winning 3 sets to 1.

The Arizona volleyball team redeemed themselves on Friday, March 12, defeating Colorado in four sets by scores of 27-25, 22-25, 25-9 and 25-22 in McKale Center.

Neither Arizona nor Colorado was able to garner a big lead early in the first set. Colorado later managed to get the first big lead at 21-17, but the Wildcats did not back down. Middle blocker Merle Weidt led the way with six kills, giving the Wildcats momentum to steal the set. They stormed back to tie the set 22-22, pushing it into extras and came out on top. 

One of the reasons for this was Arizona minimizing mistakes, specifically serving errors. Arizona had zero serving errors in the first set, which allowed them to remain competitive. Head coach Dave Rubio felt this was crucial.

“I thought the difference in tonight’s match was the serving,” Rubio said. “We are a solid serving team … I think the players are pretty focused after a timeout or a challenge that we are not going to miss that serve.”

The second set was much like the first, with both teams keeping the score close most of the time. Colorado was again able to secure a lead late in the set and this time, the Wildcats were not able to stage a comeback as they did in the last set.

This did not discourage the Wildcats and they showed it with a big third set. Outside hitter Sofia Maldonado Diaz finally came alive, finishing the set with four kills, one block and a serving ace. 

RELATED: Arizona volleyball team stunned in loss to Arizona State

Libero Kamaile Hiapo also came up big with back-to-back serving aces, making it the second straight match she has accomplished this. Both Colorado’s offense and defense were crushed in this set as the Buffaloes were held to single digits in scoring.

Arizona was now in a similar situation they were all too familiar with. After having a dominant set against ASU last week, the Wildcats dropped their final sets in what was an embarrassing loss. Associate head coach Charita Stubbs wanted to make sure this did not happen again. 

“I literally turned to Paige [Whipple] and gave her a couple things to say to the team,” Stubbs said. “Everything that we have done in the past is an experience which prepared us for what was happening at that time.”

What Stubbs said worked because the Wildcats were able to reverse their fortunes this time. The Wildcats shut down Colorado in the fourth and final set. Outside hitter Jaelyn Hodge had five kills, including the match point. Whipple also added three kills of her own. 

“A lot of it had to do with what Colorado was doing on the other side,” Whipple said. “When our [middle blockers] are scoring, the other team has to respect them. Several of the kills I had was because Merle [Weidt] held the middle blocker … and in that case, the hitter has the advantage.”

Arizona will face Colorado again to wrap up the season series on March 14 at 12 p.m. MST in McKale Center.

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