'Cats fall to ISU in last non-conference match during the Wildcat Classic
Senior libero Kimberly Gutierrez (1) during the Wildcats 3-0 loss to the Illinois State Redbirds on day two of the Wildcat Classic on Sept. 16.
Arizona volleyball was unable to keep the momentum going into day two of the Wildcat Classic falling to Illinois State in three sets, 27-25, 25-12, 25-23. The Wildcats dominated in day one of the tournament defeating William & Mary, 3-1, and a long five-set match against New Mexico State, 3-2.
Arizona is now 6-3 on the season as they head into conference play next week.
The Redbirds walked into Saturday with sweeps from both William & Mary and New Mexico State. Illinois State was one of the best teams Arizona had faced in non-conference play this season. Arizona put of a fight through first set and third set, but Arizona head coach Dave Rubio didn’t see the drive in the ‘Cats in the second.
“Yeah, I thought they gave up and I thought they gave up early,” Rubio said. “By the time the midway point came, I was just like, ‘I’m done. I’m just going to throw everyone else out there and have the starters regroup,’” Rubio said.
Arizona started the first set out strong and it was a close game up until set point when the Redbirds cleaned it up in the end and got the win 27-25. During the second set, Arizona defense fell back and were unable to hold off the Redbirds as they took the set 25-12.
At halftime Arizona looked to come back with a fight and hopefully win the third set, but the Redbirds didn’t hesitate to sweep the match.
Arizona outside hitter Elizabeth Shelton led the team with 12 kills followed by middle blocker Devyn Cross with five kills. Defensive specialist Makenna Martin lead the Wildcats with 14 digs.
In the third set Arizona hoped to rebound from the past two sets, but ISU took the final match of the Wildcat Classic to win the championship.
Despite freshman outside hitter Paige Whipple’s strong performance during day one, she was unable to bring her arm out today posting only eight kills with nine errors.
“Our mentality as a team, we are young and set two shows it,” Cross said. “Talent wise we have everything we need its just going to be the expectation and mindset we have going into the season.”
Shelton believes when the team works together they are unstoppable and going to be hard to deal with.
“In my opinion, considering how much talent we have on our team despite the inexperience, my belief is that we should not be losing to anybody,” Shelton said.
The Pac-12 Conference play starts next week as The Wildcats take a road-trip to Tempe to play the ASU Sun Devils on Thursday. Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. Arizona will be back at McKale Center on Saturday, Sept. 23 in a match against Washington State.
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