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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Volleyball splits weekend, eyes NCAA tournament “

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Wildcats win the volleyball game Sunday against the Berkley Bears.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Wildcats win the volleyball game Sunday against the Berkley Bears.

On a day that celebrated the accomplishments of Arizona volleyball seniors Alanna Resch and Jacy Norton, the entire team had something larger to celebrate: An almost guaranteed appearance in the NCAA Tournament this postseason.

“”I think that solidified it. I felt like if we just win one of the next four … we can assume that we’re in,”” said head coach Dave Rubio.

After a heartbreaking loss to Stanford on Friday night, No. 19 Arizona (19-8, 8-8 Pacific 10 Conference) needed to respond. It was especially important for the Wildcats to make a statement this weekend, as it was the last home stand of the season.

The Wildcats started out the match by taking the first set 25-17 against the No. 11 California Golden Bears (18-9, 11-6 Pac-10). Arizona’s main task was to stick to their game plan as they attempted to stop Cal’s explosive offense. The last time the two teams met, in Berkeley, Calif., Arizona was blasted by senior outside hitter Hana Cutura for 31 kills and a .638 attacking percentage.

On Sunday, the Wildcats were able to limit Cutura to a slightly less dominant 26 kills and an attacking percentage of .346. Where Arizona excelled, however, was in taking away other parts of the Bears’ game.

“”All we did was follow our system. We knew what we were supposed to do during our scouting report and we pulled it away,”” said junior outside hitter Tiffany Owens.

Besides Cutura, Arizona limited Cal players on offense; just three Bears had positive attacking percentages.

Junior libero Danielle Holloway again made a big impact on the serving side. Her tough serving gave Arizona two aces in the game, including one that set the Wildcats up for a match-point in the fourth set.

Arizona surrendered the third set 25-18 after going up two games in the match. In the decisive fourth set, the Wildcats opened with a 5-1 lead over Cal that grew to 11-3. Later in the set, Cal returned the favor with a 7-4 run to keep the set competitive at 18-16. Unlike the Stanford match, however, the Wildcats did not falter down the homestretch. Arizona closed out the set 25-21.

Junior outside hitter Whitney Dosty and Owens each notched 14 kills, while middle blockers Courtney Karst and Stephanie Snow recorded nine each.

“”The energy was different on the court,”” said Snow. “”I felt like we had good energy. The mistakes that were made, we didn’t even worry about it, we just moved on, next ball. I feel like even if our execution wasn’t the best at some points, we still came back and won.””

The match against Stanford did not have such a happy ending for Arizona. After battling back to tie it at 1-1 after two sets, the Wildcats took the third set 25-1 and looked to have the No. 6 Cardinal (20-7, 13-4 Pac-10) on its heels.

Set four showed the Wildcats leading most of the way until Stanford knotted the score at 20-20. An Owens kill gave Arizona the brief lead, but it then surrendered five straight points to let Stanford tie the match at 2-2.

The fifth set was the cap to the Stanford momentum slide in the match. The Cardinal took the set 15-7.

“”It’s disappointing to work that hard and to let set five get out of hand,”” Dosty said. “”There were lots of things we could have done better to stay in that fifth game.””

Despite the loss, Owens was again in double figures with 14 kills and 17 digs for her 15th double-double of the season.

Despite their loss to the Cardinal, the win against the Bears confirmed that the Wildcats have now established themselves as a team that can get the attention of the selection committee. With just one week left in the season, the Wildcats can go into Los Angeles knowing that they are hitting their stride.

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