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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Volleyball upsets No. 2 UCLA Bruins

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Annie Marum
Annie Marum / Arizona Daily WIldcat Soccer vs Oregon

As Arizona fans rose to their feet for match point in the final set against No. 2 UCLA, Arizona served the ball, the Bruins sent it back over and, with a perfect pass to Chloe Mathis, Rachel Rhoades sprung into the air to meet Mathis’ set and murdered the ball down the center.

The Wildcats (11-6, 3-5) stunned the Bruins in a 3-2 game (25-21, 25-10, 25-19, 25-18 and 15-12) match Saturday night.

McKale Center erupted in screams. Head coach Dave Rubio triumphantly punched the air and the girls joyously tackled each other. The odds weren’t in Arizona’s favor for Saturday’s match, especially after falling to No. 5 USC 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-19) on Friday.

Arizona hadn’t defeated a top-2 team since 1993. Coincidentally, that match was also against UCLA.

The team has continuously been written off as young with a lot of potential. That potential came to fruition on Saturday and Rubio saw his team grow up.

“It’s certainly a gutsy win for us,” Rubio said. “We could have rolled over a lot of times and we really toughed it out. That’s what I was telling the team in the games we were losing: ‘We’ve got to grow up here guys.’

“If we’re going to beat a great team and be a great team, then you have to be able to weather the storms and execute as a result of that.”

Arizona set the pace for the match and took the Bruins by surprise in the first game, winning 25-21. In the next set, the Bruins rebounded with a short and sweet 25-10 win.

“The Bruins were a little flat,” Rubio said. “I told them upsets happen because the team that’s supposed to win doesn’t come ready to play. In Game 1 they did that, and we took advantage of that. In game two, they said, ‘Not so fast. We’re No. 2 in the country, we’re the best team in the conference, we’re going to stomp on you and show you who’s in charge,’ and they did.”

After winning the third set 25-19, the Bruins went into the fourth game with momentum and the upper hand — it could have been the final game of the night, but Arizona didn’t allow it.

Arizona and UCLA went point for point until the scoreboard read 8-8. Suddenly, something clicked for the Wildcats and a new, more threatening team surfaced. Arizona took the lead and won the set 25-18. That same tenacity transferred into the fifth set, and the rest was history.

Player Highlights

Senior captains Courtney Karst and Cursty Jackson were nearly speechless after the match. Karst recorded 14 kills in the match, and Jackson had 13.

“Amazing, so amazing,” Karst said. “I’ve been here four years and we’ve never beat UCLA, ever. I’m at a loss for words right now.”

Jackson was equally amazed and proud of her team.

“Everyone did their job tonight, it wasn’t just one person getting kills, it was everyone,” she said. “I’m just so happy for our team, this win sets us up for more success.”

Freshman Madison Kingdon had her fifth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 11 digs. Fellow freshmen Rhoades and Taylor Arizobal made four and three blocks, respectively, and Mathis tallied 44 assists in the match. Sophomore libero Candace Nicholson had a career-high of 24 digs for the Wildcats.

“We can’t let up,” Karst said. “Yeah, we beat the No. 2 team in the nation and we aren’t ranked, but we can be better than all of these teams we’ve played. Everyone’s better, but we’re not that impressed; we know we can beat whomever we come against.”

Added Jackson: “It definitely sets the tone. I think everyone now knows how it feels to win when you’re not supposed to, so we could get used to this feeling.”

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