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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 14 Arizona drops five-set heartbreaking match against No. 8 Stanford

It felt as though Arizona volleyball would pull out its first victory over a top-10 ranked opponent this season after being on the brink of winning the fourth and fifth sets, but the Wildcats were unable to close out No. 8 Stanford.

The Wildcats started off the match strong with a 25-15 first set win, led with effective blocking by Mackenzie Jacobson, strong serving from Halli Amaro and Laura Larson, assists from Penina Snuka, and key kills by Kalei Mau and Tyler Spriggs.

Stanford fired back in the second set, closing the set on a 9-2 run to split the match at one set apiece. Stanford looked to have momentum and control going into the third set, but the Wildcats would hold their ground. After the score being tied 9-9, the Wildcats won six points in a row, aided by Stanford unforced errors and efficient serving from Mackenzie Kleespies and Larson.

Stanford was able to cut the lead down to 20-18, but key kills by Mau and Kendra Dahlke ultimately led the Wildcats to a 25-21 third set victory.

After being tied at 5-5 in the fourth set, Stanford jumped out to a 9-6 lead. Arizona then called a timeout, and was able to tie the set back up at 10-10 on an ace by Larson. Stanford would quickly regain the lead going up 13-10 and 15-12, but Arizona was able to fight again and tie it at 18-18, led by two consecutive good serves by Snuka when they were down 16-18.

The 18-18 point was well fought out and one of the longest rallies of the match, and Mau finished it off with a crucial kill to put her team up by a point. Arizona would eventually go up 23-22, just two points away from victory.

Stanford would call timeout, and would claim three consecutive points to steal the fourth set away. Though Arizona lost their opportunity to win in the fourth, they would have another one in the deciding set.

Arizona took a 7-5 lead to begin the set, with more kills from Amaro, Mau, good serving from Larson, and blocking from Jacobson. Stanford would then rally to take an 8-7 lead, but Arizona would stay in it. They finally reclaimed the lead when going up 13-12, having another huge opportunity to put Stanford away.

Stanford would then call timeout and won the next points to go up 14-13.The Wildcats would fight off two match points, but were able to get a match point of their own. Up 16-15, the Cardinal were finally able to close out the match, aided by a serve that clipped the net.

“We certainly put those ourselves in a position to beat those guys (Stanford),” Arizona volleyball coach Dave Rubio said. “We’re knocking on the door and just haven’t done enough to get through it.”

This is the third tight loss the Wildcats have had against a top 10-ranked opponent, the other two coming against Texas and ASU. Earlier in the season, Rubio talked about how important it would be for his team to step up in the big moments, something they have not been able to do against top 10 ranked teams this season.

“We’re not executing at the end of the game and when the bigger moments arise,” Rubio said. “As a result, we’re hoping to win instead of taking destiny in our own hands. Great teams and elite teams don’t rely on that.”

After the tough loss, the Wildcats will now have to move forward and focus on their next game, which will be this Friday night against California in McKale Center.

Follow Brandon James on Twitter.

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