Wildcats finish 2nd at Pac-12 Team Invitational

Arizona sand volleyball held its own in Saturday’s Pac-12 Team Invitational, pulling out a second-place finish behind No. 1-ranked USC.

The No. 10 Wildcats began the invitational with a 3-2 win over No. 8 UCLA. Arizona’s No. 1 team of Madison and McKenna Witt defeated the Bruins in straight sets 21-19, 21-14.

With Madi Kingdon out this weekend, the No. 2 team for Arizona consisted of Kingdon’s normal partner Kaitlyn Leary and Yale transfer Kendall Polan. The pair took down UCLA 21-18, 21-10. Emily Kiser and Rachel Rhoades of the Wildcats’ No. 3 team went to three sets against the Bruins but ultimately got the victory, 21-19, 11-21, 15-9.

Arizona’s No. 4 team of Taylor Arizobal and Allie Cook were defeated by UCLA’s Karly Drolson and Rachel Inouye 13-21, 17-21. The UA’s No. 5 team of Hailey Devlin and Sarah Seiber took a loss against UCLA’s Lexi Jasper-Baylin and Ivey Schmitt after three sets 18-21, 21-19, 13-15.

Arizona then faced off against the undefeated USC Trojans. The Wildcats lost (0-5).

Madison and McKenna Witt were defeated (14-21, 14-21) by the Trojans. Leary and Polan lost in two close sets 18-21, 17-21.

Kiser and Rhoades were defeated by the Trojans 8-21, 12-21. Arizobal and Cook lost the first set 12-21 but held their own in a close second set, where they were defeated 24-26. Devlin and Seiber were defeated 10-21, 12-21.

The Wildcats got another chance to face off against the rival ASU and came away with another win against the Sun Devils (3-2).

Arizona’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams of Witt/Witt and Leary/Polan, respectively, each came away with a win over the Sun Devils. Madison and McKenna Witt defeated Arizona State 21-12, 21-17, while Leary and Polan won both sets 21-14.

Kiser and Rhoades for the Wildcats’ No. 3 team lost to ASU 19-21, 12-21. Arizona’s No. 4 team of Arizobal and Cook was also defeated by the Sun Devils 16-21, 14-21.

Devlin and Seiber of the No. 5 team for the Wildcats got the victory over the Sun Devils in straight sets 21-13, 21-9.

In the championship round of the Invitational, the Wildcats once again faced the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans. Arizona was competitive, but couldn’t pull out a victory, as it was defeated (0-5) once again by the Trojans.

Madison and McKenna Witt were defeated by USC’s Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes 18-21, 14-21. Leary and Polan put up a good fight but fell to the Trojans’ Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange 17-21, 19-21.

Kiser and Rhoades went up against USC’s Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton, and were defeated in straight sets 5-21, 13-21. The Trojans’ Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler took down the Wildcats’ Arizobal and Cook after three sets 16-21, 23-21, 11-15.

Finishing off the day, Arizona’s Devlin and Seiber fell to USC’s Jenna Belton and Bria Russ 21-23, 7-21.

The Wildcats went into the Pac-12 Invitational wanting to see how they stood up against some of the toughest competition in the nation. With a second-place finish and losses only against the No. 1 team in the nation, the Wildcats proved they are a force to be reckoned with in the sand volleyball community.

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