Arizona swept by Western Kentucky in opening round of NCAA Tournament

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Arizona Athletics

Arizona volleyball playing against Western Kentucky in Provo, Utah.

In what was a disappointing showing for the Wildcats in their first round match of the NCAA tournament, Arizona volleyball were defeated by No. 20 Western Kentucky, falling in three quick sets to end their season in Provo, Utah.

Though the first set was close, with Western Kentucky winning 25-22, the Hilltoppers took the second and third sets easily, 25-15 and 25-17.

One of the main problems for the Wildcats in the match was making errors. The UA made a total of 20, and had a hitting percentage of just .102.

Though the Wildcats came up short, they did have positive performances from Penina Snuka and Mackenzie Jacobson. Jacobson totaled up 10 kills and had a .444 hitting percentage, while Snuka tallied four kills, 26 assists and 15 digs.

Arizona also had the disadvantage of having to play without two of their best players, libero McKenna Painton and outside hitter Kalei Mau. Mau was the team leader in kills, and was third overall in the Pac-12 in kills. Both were out due to injury.

Though Western Kentucky was a much smaller team then Arizona, the Hilltoppers were not intimidated and did not allow themselves to be overpowered. Western Kentucky played solid defense when Arizona was looking to attack, coming up with 60 digs as a team.

Western Kentucky will advance to the second round and play the winner of No. 11 BYU and Ohio. BYU defeated Arizona in the tournament last year, and went all the way to the NCAA championship game.

An early exit in the tournament will have the Wildcats looking forward to next season, as they finished the season with an overall record of 19-14.

For seniors Halli Amaro, Nikki Attea, Mackenzie Kleespies and Anna Panagiotakopoulos, their collegiate volleyball careers have officially come to an end.

Amaro finished as the all-time leader in sets played according to Arizona Athletics. Although the season did not end as the UA may have hoped, a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance is an impressive feat nonetheless.


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