Arizona sand volleyball loses three more matches
Arizona sand volleyball’s record dropped to below .500 for the first time this season after the team lost all three matches at the USA Volleyball Invitational Tournament in Los Angeles over the weekend.
Arizona (6-8) has lost eight of its last nine matches after starting the season 5-0.
The team was short-handed as freshman Penina Snuka, junior Jane Croson and freshman Laura Larson were all playing with the indoor team.
Despite the three losses, Arizona head coach Steve Walker said playing in a setting different from previous matches was beneficial to the players.
“The sand is much deeper, and the wind is more prominent coming off the ocean,” Walker said about Hermosa Beach. “Both those conditions made it more difficult to move as it took us a while to get adjusted in the matches. It was great exposure and experience in the deepest sand you can play on worldwide.”
The Wildcats lost 5-0 to No. 2 Pepperdine (13-1) in the first match on Saturday.
Walker said the Waves’ placement and velocity on their serving gave Arizona trouble setting up its offense.
“The tough serving was moving our players around a lot,” Walker said, “and that never really allowed us to get comfortable. The players were constantly on their heels and guessing too much where the placement of the serves would be.”
Arizona lost 5-0 to No. 3 Hawaii (15-3) in the second match.
Walker said the players performed and competed much better than in their previous defeat to the Rainbow Wahine last month.
“Our level of concentration was very good,” Walker said. “Adjusting to their style of serve did not hurt us compared to the Pepperdine game; it was more they executed the entire game — while we did not — in different parts of the match.”
Instead of finishing the day with a win against a team with a losing record, Arizona lost 3-2 to Cal State Bakersfield (6-8) in the final match.
“I felt we were not ready to play as I much as I would have liked,” Walker said. “Being the last match of the day, there was certainly some fatigue starting to show after playing two high level programs.”
Walker said his players were not down entering the Bakersfield contest, but felt they did not bring that same consistent style of play they demonstrated earlier in the day.
“We made far too many errors,” Walker said. “We are just not at a point yet where we can kind of ride that roller coaster of emotion in going up and down.”
The lone bright spot of the weekend came in the Pairs Tournament on Sunday as juniors Madi Kingdon and Ronni Lewis of Arizona won their match 21-16, 21-16 in the Silver consolation bracket.
“We need to come out every single time and be prepared to play,” Walker said, “and it was very disappointing that we came away not on top.”
—Follow Tyler Keckeisen @tyler_keckeisen