Arizona sand volleyball drops two matches over the weekend
Arizona sand volleyball ended its three-match losing streak with a 3-2 win over Cal Poly in the morning match at the Pac-12 Invitational in Santa Monica, Calif., on Saturday. However, the Wildcats fell 3-2 to No. 8 Loyola Marymount and 3-2 to ASU in later matches.
“I like how we competed,” head coach Steve Walker said. “Regardless of the score, the effort was there, as they stayed composed throughout the afternoon. We just couldn’t come through down the stretch in some key points of our matches.”
Freshmen Madison Witt and McKenna Witt, at the No. 1 team position, clinched the victory for the Wildcats against the Mustangs by defeating Katie Conroy and Jennifer Keddy, 21-17, 21-17.
Arizona (7-10) dropped its first two matches to Loyola Marymount, but came back and tied the last match at 2-2 with wins from juniors Madi Kingdon and Ronni Lewis, and juniors Taylor Arizobal and Allie Cook.
Loyola Marymount is in its third season, and Walker praised how well the LMU coaches have developed their players. Walker said the Lions don’t have a lot of sand-only players.
“They have really hit their strides as a sand program now,” Walker said. “The coaches have dedicated almost their entire spring of getting their indoor players or crossover players prepared for this season of finding their rhythm. They were playing some exceptional volleyball, and we pushed them to the brink in today’s matchup and came up short.”
The match against ASU came down to a final three-set match again. The Sun Devils’ No. 1 duo of Bianca Arellano and Bethany Jorgensen won 27-25, 25-27, 15-11 against the Witt twins. Arizona is 1-1 against its rivals this season.
Walker said the Wildcats were too impatient and had too many fatal errors.
“Being aggressive at times when we shouldn’t have been with our shot-making hurt us the most,” Walker said. “We can compete with any mid-level team at this point of the season, just knocking on the door of the programs that are ranked and established still gives us trouble. At critical junctures of the play, we cannot just … revert to some of the problems we had earlier in the year.”
Arizona finished Sunday on a high note. Kingdon and Lewis made it to the finals of the Pairs Tournament, before losing to USC’s top-seeded duo, Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes, 21-12, 21-17.
—Follow Tyler Keckiesen @Tyler_Keckisen