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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball suffers season-ending 3-1 loss to BYU in NCAA Tournament

Rebecca Noble

Arizona outside hitter Madi Kingdon (9) spikes the past the BYU defense during Arizona’s 3-1 loss in the second round of the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament in McKale Center on Friday.

No. 11 overall seeded Arizona volleyball watched their season come to an end Friday night as the Wildcats lost a four set heartbreaker to a physical BYU team 25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 23-25, despite a career day from standout outside hitter Madi Kingdon.

“It’s never any fun losing,” UA volleyball head coach Dave Rubio said. “I thought it was a pretty good match and the better team won tonight. They took us out of the areas that we normally do really well in and it really came down to two skills for us and that was serving and passing.”

The loss marked the end to the Wildcats season, one of the most successful since 2005, with 24 wins.

In her last game as a Wildcat, Kingdon led Arizona with career-high 33 kills and 23 digs against the Cougars. Sophomore setter Penina Snuka had 43 assists and 16 digs. UA libero Ronni Lewis added 21 digs, while outside hitter Taylor Arizobal had nine kills.

The match also marked the last time that five Arizona seniors would put on the Wildcat uniform. Kingdon, Lewis, Arizobal, middle blocker Rachel Rhoades and libero Kennedy Wesley cap off one of the most successful senior classes Rubio has ever coached.

Rubio said that the loss was very one-dimensional, but that he was proud of how far this team has come.

“It’s nothing to take away from finishing third in a conference that sent 10 teams to the NCAA’s in a conference year that was strongest I’ve ever seen it from top to bottom.” Rubio said.

The match was back-and-forth throughout, as both teams had to fight for every point. After winning the first set, the Wildcats lost the next three, two of which by only by two points.

“I just didn’t think that the end of our season would come this soon,” Kingdon said. “I thought we would have made it past this round, so it’s disappointing and I’m sad to leave them.”

The loss also showed a glimpse at the future of Arizona volleyball, as redshirt freshmen Elizabeth Inch and McKenzie Jacobson, and sophomore Ashley Harris all played well in the match in their respective areas. Inch had two service aces, while Harris and Jacobson added five and two kills, respectively.

Overall, Arizona had a total hitting percentage of .158 along with 10.0 blocks. The Cougars countered with a .178 hitting percentage and 11.0 blocks. BYU senior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson had 19 kills total and outside hitter Alexa Gray had 15 kills. The Cougars were just too powerful and physical, especially being the nation’s leading blocking team.

According to players and coaches, the season ended much too soon for Arizona, which had hoped to earn a sweet 16 bid moving forward.

“We’re disappointed,” Lewis said. “We worked hard and come together at the beginning of the season and knew what we wanted. Now, I just hope that our leadership and our presence this year can influence; I just hope that next year they can make us proud.”

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