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Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | Last updated: 9:51am

Arizona sand volleyball looks to be more assertive in Irvine



Arizona sand volleyball looks to end its four-match losing streak as it heads to Irvine Valley College for two contests Friday.

Its first match is against Long Beach State at 11 a.m., with another following immediately after against Irvine Valley College (3-4).

Arizona (5-4) still does not get a break against top competition, though, as three of its past four games have been against ranked opponents.

Long Beach State (4-4) captured the 2013 national title after defeating the two-time defending champions in Pepperdine.

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By Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat
McKenna and Madison Witt rally for teammates against Tulane on March 15. The Wildcats have not won a team match since.

Irvine Valley College won the Intercollegiate Sand Volleyball Conference State Championship last year, and finished second in the first year of the championship in 2012.

Arizona could not close out the final game of the three-set match of dual play in both losses against Grand Canyon University and Nebraska last Friday. However, UA head coach Steve Walker said he saw the close losses as a learning process for his players.

“For the most part we outdid ourselves in a position to win the dual,” Walker said. “We just didn’t assert ourselves and put the teams away. It’s a lesson that isn’t a fun one to learn.”

Walker said his squad did a poor job of exploiting each team’s weaknesses, and needs to focus on what it does best in the transition game.

“We played into what they did well instead,” Walker said. “Passing and serving need to stay up to par the whole time as we definitely have the potential to win those matches … instead of the games being so close.”

Despite being in the midst of a four-match skid, Walker still sees his squad improving week to week.

Arizona struggled to adjust to an aggressive style of serving against Hawaii and USC in the Hawaii Tournament almost two weeks ago, but Walker has seen that problem dwindle since then.

“We have done a much better job defending and covering the aggressive serving,” Walker said. “That is not really too much of a weakness for us anymore.”

—Follow Tyler Keckeisen @tyler_keckeisen


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