Beach volleyball celebrates head coach's birthday with Friday sweep at home

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Arizona defender Mia Mason (22) serves the ball against San Jose State during the first set of her first match on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Bear Down Beach in Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona beach volleyball gave head coach Steve Walker the best birthday gift he could ask for: two straight wins on a double-header Friday night at Bear Down Beach. Arizona’s two straight wins to open the Wildcat Spring Challenge were spearheaded by the performance of the No. 5 pair, Makenna Martin and Caroline Cordes.

No. 17 Stetson: 

Martin and Cordes led the charge for the ‘Cats by breaking the 2-2 score after defeating No. 17 Stetson’s Quinci Birker and Rebecca Ingram. The Wildcat tandem dropped the first set 21-16 but rallied back to win the second set, 21-12. In the third and final set, Martin and Cordes were able to come out victorious by a score of 15-11. Their win over Birker and Ingram gave Arizona the final push that they needed to come out victorious against No. 17 Stetson (3-2).

Arizona’s No. 1 pair, Natalie Anselmo and Olivia Macdonald, could not pull through for the ‘Cats in their first match of the day against Stetson. They dropped their seventh match as a pair this season with their loss against Stetson’s Darby Dunn and Sammee Thomas (21-16 and 21-16).

Arizona’s No. 4 pair, Jonny Baham and Brooke Burling, continued to dominate the courts as a pair. They easily handled Stetson’s Lauren Durham and Julie Varga in a two-set sweep (21-15 and 21-9). Baham and Burling have been shining on the courts as a pair lately, getting big wins for Arizona against top-rated programs such as USC, Stanford and now Stetson.

ASU:

The Wildcats defeated their rivals in a more decisive match (4-1).

Top-ranked tandem, Macdonald and Anselmo, redeemed themselves on the day with their big win against the Sun Devils in a two-set sweep against Kwyn Johnson and Mia Rivera (21-16 and 21-16). After their win against Johnson and Rivera, they move up to 15-7 as a pair this season.

The experienced, senior tandem, Stephany Purdue and Hailey Devlin, played as the No. 2 pair for Arizona, beating out ASU’s Sydney Palmer and Kara Woodard in a two-set sweep (21-14 and 21-15). Purdue and Devlin moved from the No. 3 to the No. 2 pair after their win against No. 17 Stetson earlier in the day. 

The only pair to get lose against Sun Devils was UA’s No. 3 pair, Kacey Nady and Sara Watanabe. This is the first time they've shared the sand this season and they were swept in a two-set match (21-14 and 22-20).

“It’s always great to get two back-to-back wins at home,” Arizona head coach Steve Walker said. “We can’t let our guard down going into tomorrow, they [Cal and Colorado Mesa] both have excellent programs.”

With their back-to-back wins tonight, Arizona beach volleyball moves to 14-8 on the season.

The Sand Cats are back in action tomorrow morning to close out the Wildcat Spring Challenge against Colorado Mesa at 9:30 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. against Cal.


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