Arizona volleyball suffers first loss of the season
It was an eventful weekend for Arizona volleyball, which extended its winning streak to eight games over the season before being defeated by No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday.
In the third set of the Syracuse match, Arizona faced a 20-12 deficit before embarking on a 13-3 run to win that set before closing out the set 25-18. Penina Snuka was the offensive catalyst with 45 assists while Tyler Spriggs and Nikki Attea led the Wildcats attack with 14 kills each as Arizona handed Syracuse their first loss of the season.
Arizona came into the weekend with the nation’s best defensive hitting percentage at (.076) and Syracuse would achieve a clip of .242, the highest of any Wildcat opponent this season.
Arizona would then go on to sweep host LIU Brooklyn (25-19, 25-20, 25-16) to start the season 8-0, their best start since their 12-0 start in 2009. Their victory over LIU Brooklyn would be their sixth sweep of the season as Halli Amaro racked up four blocks and five kills while Mackenzie Kleepspies had a then career-high 17 digs. Spriggs tallied up seven kills while Snuka had 37 assists and nine digs, just narrowly missed her fourth double-double by a dig.
Arizona capped off the Blackbird Invitational with their toughest test of the season, a hard fought match with No. 15 Ohio State that would end in defeat as they fell 3-1 in four sets (25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 29-27). Mau led the way with a career-high 23 kills while Amaro and Attea each chipped in with 10 kills each for Arizona. Kleepspies topped her career high from earlier that day with 22 digs.
The Wildcats were not playing like their typical selves as they registered 30 errors against the Buckeyes while posting a season-low .173. Fourteen of the 30 attack errors were caused by Ohio State blocks, as they won the block battle 14-7.
Junior Ohio State libero Valeria León tallied 35 digs against Arizona and would go on to become the Blackbird Invitational Tournament MVP. Arizona was well represented on the All-Tournament Team, as Mau and Snuka would each earn spots.
While the loss does sting, hopefully this just a bump on the road as they begin conference play this month in a brutal Pac-12 league. With five Pac-12 teams ranked ahead of them at No. 8 overall in the top 25, the Wildcats will have plenty opportunities this season to prove their mettle. Conference play begins Sept. 24 against their rivals, No. 10 Arizona State.
The Wildcats will look to avenge their loss to the Buckeyes as they take on No. 4 Texas Longhorns next weekend to headlight the Wildcat Classic. The Wildcat Classic starts off the last day of non-conference play Saturday with Arizona vs. New Mexico State at 10 a.m. before a matchup against Savannah State at noon.