Arizona volleyball opens up season with 2-1 record
Arizona volleyball ended its opening weekend with a record of 2-1.
The Wildcats defeated Morgan State 3-0 Friday and Central Arkansas 3-1 Saturday, then fell to Kansas 3-1 on Saturday as well.
Freshman setter Penina Snuka had a double-double, 28 assists and 10 digs in her debut against Morgan State. Junior outside hitters Madi Kingdon and Jane Croson combined for 19 kills. Croson is new to the Wildcats, having transferred from the University of Hawaii.
“I became a much better coach when Jane transferred and when Penina decided to come to Arizona,” head coach Dave Rubio said. “It feels nice to be back on the floor with a new lineup. It was good for Penina to kind of get her feet wet in a match. You never know how players are going to react in an opening match. What I saw today is what I see every day in practice.”
Brian Valencia/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Jane Croson spikes the ball at the volleyball scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Croson is a junior at UA.
Croson said she had a smooth transition onto the team.
“Well, I adjusted pretty fast, the girls are very welcoming,” Croson said. “The first week of training was really tough — I think that’s what brought us together — and the girls are just fun to play with.”
The Central Arkansas match proved more difficult than Morgan State and the team did lose one of the sets 25-23.
Against the Sugar Bears, Kingdon had 20 kills and 11 digs, Croson tallied 10 kills and 19 digs and junior outside hitter Taylor Arizobal had eight kills.
“That team did not want to give up,” Arizobal said. “Central Arkansas is a really good team. They have a bunch of older girls that know how to play the game, but we fought as hard as we could, they executed well.”
In the night cap against No. 20 Kansas, the UA won the first set, 27-25, but then its fortunes went downhill. The Jayhawks won the last three sets, 25-15, 25-23 and 25-20.
After the match, Rubio said that Kansas just came to play better and harder than the Wildcats.
“We were a step slow all night long,” Rubio said. “While it is still very early into the season, this match may come back and hurt the team’s chances of making the tournament.”
Rubio said the loss could come back to hurt the Wildcats come NCAA selection time.
“Despite the fact that it’s the first weekend, every match counts,” Rubio said. “We blew an opportunity, we had an opportunity tonight to go 3 and 0 and beat a ranked team and help our RPI [rating percentage index] for the postseason.”
Kingdon said she is still confident the team will move on.
“It’s our first loss, so we get a little taste of what a loss feels like,” Kingdon said. “None of us like losing, I think that’s just going to motivate us to play even harder next week and the following matches during the season.”
Next weekend, the Wildcats will host Butler, Eastern Kentucky and Utah Valley in the Arizona Desert Classic.
Follow Derek Evans @DerekEvans20