The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

102° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Beach volleyball goes 1-2 in tough battle in Pac-12 Invitational

Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics
Arizona’s freshman beach volleyball player, Jonny Baham, lunges to receive the ball during the Beach Volleyball Wildcat Invitational on March 2 at Bear Down Bear, in Tucson, Ariz.

No. 14 Arizona hosted its first trio of Pac-12 games this season following a 3-0 start to the year. No. 2-ranked USC and No. 12-ranked Stanford handed the ‘Cats their first losses of the season after being defeated by the Trojans 5-0 and losing a close game to the Cardinal 2-3. Arizona, however, picked up a win against Oregon, moving their overall record to 4-2.     


The Wildcats were overpowered by the Trojans, as USC swept Arizona 5-0 for their first win of the invitational.  

Olivia Hallaran and Madison Rigdon were upgraded to the team’s No. 1 pair to face Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina. The pair could not pick up a win as they dropped both sets 15-21 and 10-21. 

The sophomore-junior tandem of Jonny Baham and Brooke Burling suffered their first individual loss of the season against the Trojans’ No. 3 pair. Burling and Baham could not repeat their stellar performance in last week’s matchups, as the duo was outplayed, losing the first set 17-21. They were unable to bounce back, losing the second set 12-21.  

          RELATED: Arizona beach volleyball begins season ranked in top 25

Natalie Anselmo and Mia Mason struggled and lost their second match in a row to opposing No. 2 pair Sammy Slater and Terese Cannon. They lost the first set 18-21 and the second set 14-21, giving USC their third win of the game and securing Arizona’s opponent’s win. 

“USC is a two-time national champion. They reached the national semi-finals last year, and I thought we competed very well,” head coach Steve Walker said.


Arizona’s second matchup of the day went the complete opposite, as the ‘Cats had no trouble against a young Oregon Ducks squad, winning the game 4-1.

The Sand Cats’ offense was spearheaded by No. 5 pair Dana Parker and Ainise Havili. The duo handled Oregon’s Ronika Stone and Elise Ferreira by winning the first set 21-15 and the second set 21-17 to complete the two-set sweep. 

Burling and Baham got back to their winning ways after sweeping freshman Emily Mattoon and senior Maddy Silberger-Franek (21-9, 21-17).

Anselmo and Mia Mason were forced to a third set after a 19-21 loss and a 21-13 win against the Ducks’ Josie Cole and Ally Haden. The pair toughed it out and won the third set 15-9. 

Arizona’s freshman tandem, Sarah Blacker and Jasmine Safar, won their game after a highly contested three set match (21-10, 18-21, 15-9), which gave the Wildcats its fourth and final point of the game.  


The last time these two teams met was in the 2018 Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship, where the Cardinal took the match 4-1. Sunday’s matchup felt quite the same after a bad start for the Wildcat pairs, who dropped three of the first five sets, dooming the squad into a 2-3 loss. 

It looked promising for the ‘Cats after Burling and Baham were slotted into the No. 1 pair for this game. The reliable duo swept Stanford’s Sunny Villapando and Charlie Ekstrom after a 21-17 first set win and a 23-21 second set win. 

Hallaran and Rigdon’s weekend struggles continued as the pair failed to land a win after losing both sets 10-21 and 16-21. The junior-senior pairing finished the weekend with a 0-3 record. 

Parker and Havili were overwhelmed by Shannon Richardson and Blake Sharp. The match did not last long, as the No. 5 pair were swept in a two-set match (19-21, 13-21). 

The No. 3 pair of Anselmo and Mason had a chance to force a third set but fell just short in a closely battled 19-21 and 20-22 set loss, giving Stanford its third point and the victory. Anselmo and Mason now have an individual record of 3-3. 

The No. 4 pair, Sarah Blacker and Jasmine Safar, pulled out an impressive win against Maddie Dailey and Jordan McKinney. An 8-2 start ignited a 21-15 win, which carried over into another 21-15 win in the second set. The freshman combo now have an individual record of 5-1. 

After the game, Blacker talked about her developing chemistry on the sand with Safar.

“Since we’re both freshman, I feel like we are in it together, and we’re both going for it,” she said. “Her being a lefty also gives us a huge advantage over other teams.” 

Arizona beach volleyball will hit the road next Wednesday to play Concordia University and Irvine Valley College on March 6 in Irvine, Calif.

Follow Jacob Mennuti on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search