Arizona beach volleyball in need of victories as they host Pac-12 Championships

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona blocker Olivia MacDonald (5) makes a dig during Arizona's 4-1 win against Santa Clara at Beardown Beach on Friday, March 31.

The Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championships are coming to the desert this weekend, and the timing couldn’t be better for No. 3-seed Arizona. 

Arizona’s first match will be Thursday against their most recent opponent, No. 6-seed Cal. 

Last weekend, the Wildcats swept the Golden Bears at home in what senior Halli Amaro called the team’s best performance of the season.

“Last weekend was one of the very first times we played good all together, so I think the tournament comes at the right time,” Amaro said. “The only thing that can hurt us is not giving it our all.”

The tournament features the pairs bracket in addition to the team tournament. Arizona’s top pair, Madison and McKenna Witt, were seeded fifth and will play the 12th seed, Washington Huskies Cassie Strickland and Courtney Schwan. Arizona’s No. 2 pair, Olivia Hallaran and Olivia Macdonald, are the 10th seed and will play Stanford’s seventh seed, Kathryn Plummer and Jenna Gray. 

Rebecca Noble

Defender Brooke Burling (31) watches the game winning point fall just out of reach during Arizona's 4-1 win against New Mexico at Bear Down Beach on Friday, March 31, 2017.

“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Madison Witt said. “Everyone’s just ready to compete and excited to compete at our home facility. We know to get to the finals we’re going to have to beat anyone. We’re focused and just really excited to compete.”

The advantage of hosting the tournament is invaluable to the Wildcats, who, according to coach Steve Walker, may need to win the whole thing to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. 

The tournament will also bring the nation’s top two teams, USC and UCLA, to Tucson. Arizona lost on the road to both teams but will challenge them to play away from the comfort of the West Coast beaches.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see a lot of teams who don’t play in the desert come out here,” Amaro said. “It’s interesting to see how other teams have adapted and if they can adapt. I think that’s in our favor.”

Arizona’s match against Cal is at 11 a.m. Thursday. If the Wildcats advance, they will play the winner of No. 1 UCLA and No. 7 Washington. 


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