Arizona volleyball sweeps Cleveland State; Sparty next challenge for Cats
Outside Hitter Kalei Mau hits the ball into play at the Wildcats' game against California on Friday, Oct. 2. She played in all 4 sets that game.
In the program’s 19th NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Dave Rubio, Arizona women’s volleyball advanced to the second round in a 25-14, 25-17, 25-13 sweep of Cleveland State in East Lansing, Michigan on Friday.
In three sets, Arizona crushed the Vikings’ tournament hopes and quickly took care of business. This dominant performance put the Wildcats in a good position looking forward to the next round.
“We were very good tonight; very efficient,” Rubio said. “I feel like we’re playing our best volleyball right now.”
With the win, Arizona improved to a 19-14 overall record, going 6-4 on a mutual court, and put an end to the Horizon League Conference champions’ 25-win season. Next, Arizona will take on the host Michigan State Spartans who swept Fairfield in the first round.
Michigan State will be Arizona’s 10th ranked opponent on the road this season. Of those matches, Arizona has a 4-6 record, but four of those losses came early in the season when a back injury kept Kalei Mau from playing at full strength.
The return of Mau’s health has allowed the Wildcats to find victory against tough opponents, and she was unstoppable against Cleveland State. On 35 attempts, Mau totaled a .400 hit percentage with 17 kills– more than Cleveland State’s top two attackers combined.
The Vikings had no answer for Mau’s dominance on Friday. Attributed to her athletic capabilities, Mau provided her team with versatility on offense by successfully hitting out of the backrow, left side and middle.
Mau’s efficiency on offense contributed to the team’s .410 hitting percentage. The freshman Devyn Cross followed with 10 kills and Katarina Pilepic completed the match with nine.
Arizona’s offensive success was generated from its effectiveness on the serve. Mau lead the Wildcats with two of the team’s five service aces, and tough serving consistently put Cleveland State out of system, holding the Vikings to a .163 hitting percentage.
Previously, Arizona has achieved victory from behind the service line. Arizona averages 1.42 aces per set in wins and has over 100 service errors in its losses. With only two errors in Friday’s match, serving will be a key component to staying competitive in the tournament.
The second round commences Saturday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. in East Lansing, Michigan against the host Spartans as the Wildcat will look to progress to Lincoln, Nebraska to the Sweet 16.
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