Arizona beach volleyball wins its 11th straight and sweeps final home tournament

Caleb Villegas | The Daily Wildcat Natalie Anselmo (1) making a diving attempt to save the ball on April 13 at Bear Down Bear, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona wins 4-1 against New Mexico.

No. 13 Arizona beach volleyball hosted its final tournament of the 2019 season over the weekend. The team continued its hot streak by winning all four of their games against Ottawa (5-0), Santa Clara (5-0, 5-0) and New Mexico (4-1), moving their record to 21-4 on the season and marking the most wins in a season since the program was started just six years ago.  

April 12 vs. Ottawa

Arizona opened up the weekend with a win against the Ottawa Spirit in commanding fashion, taking the match 5-0 without dropping a set. 

The Wildcats were led by Brooke Burling and Jonny Baham after sweeping the opposing No. 2 pair, Valerie Rodgers and Mikelle Taylor. The experienced duo won the first set 21-9, which was followed up with a 21-8 win in the second set. 

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UA junior Natalie Anselmo and senior Madison Rigdon continued their undefeated streak on Friday with a two-set sweep as the No. 3 pair. The first set was a competitive one after a close 21-18 victory. Anselmo and Rigdon later settled in and won the second set 21-13. 

The match was rounded out by the No. 1 pair of Mia Mason and Olivia Hallaran who defeated Viri Serrano and Andrea Gonzalez. Both sets were close, but the ‘Cats were able to pull out the win with a 21-18 win in the first set and a 21-17 win in the second set. 

photo by Caleb Villegas

April 12 vs. Santa Clara

The Sand Cats carried their momentum over from the first game by repeating the set sweep, resulting in another 5-0 win over the Broncos.

Freshman tandem Sarah Blacker and Jasmine Safar played as the team’s No. 4 seed and had no trouble with Santa Clara’s Kathryn Decker and Liliana Light. The match was claimed by Arizona with a 21-10 win in the first set and 21-14 in the second set. 

Dana Parker and Anise Havili came into the weekend riding an eight-match win streak. The duo showed out and swept the Broncos’ opposing No. 5 pair by winning both sets (21-13, 21-15).

Olivia Hallaran (32) setting her teammate for a spike on April 13, at Bear Down Bear, in Tucson, Ariz. Unfortunately Olivia and Mia Mason lost their match.

April 13 vs. New Mexico 

Day two kicked off with a rematch against the New Mexico Lobos. The two teams played each other earlier in the year, in which Arizona took the 4-1 victory. Saturday was no different as the Wildcats won their third game of weekend 4-1.

Burling celebrated her 21st birthday by claiming a victory with Baham against Yasmin Tran and Morgan Schreckler. They won the first set 24-22 and 21-18 in the second set. 

Safar and Blacker won took their match with a set sweep, including a 25-23 win in the first set. The second set was jump started by a 7-1 start, which resulted into a 21-6 win. 

The only pair to drop a match this weekend was the pairing of Hallaran and Mason. They lost the first set 19-21 and couldn’t close out a 20-16 lead in the second set, losing 21-23. 

Dana Parker (12) and Ainise Havili (13) shaking hands after their win on April 13 at Bear Down Bear, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona wins 4-1 against New Mexico

April 13 vs. Santa Clara

The final game of the weekend was wrapped up with another matchup against Santa Clara. The second meeting between these teams, however, was no different, as the ‘Cats controlled the match and wiped the Broncos 5-0, completing the set sweep. 

Mason, a senior, capped off her collegiate career with one more win at home with junior Hallaran. The Wildcat duo had no trouble with Santa Clara’s Michelle Gajdka and Anna McCreadie, winning both sets and achieving the two-set sweep (21-13, 21-8). 

Parker and Havili were one of the four pairs to go 4-0 on the weekend after a dominating performance in both sets (21-16, 21-12). Parker and Havili are now 21-4 together with a 12-match win streak.

Safar and Blacker now have a duo record of 22-3 following a match win against Liliana Light and Brittany Gillingham (21-15, 21-13). 

Anselmo and Rigdon have been the team’s best duo this season, currently 19-0 together and keeping the undefeated streak alive with another victory against Santa Clara heading into the end of the season (21-14, 21-14). 

After the game, Rigdon spoke about her time at Arizona and how her final home game as a Wildcat will carry over into the rest of the season.  

“It’s been a lot of fun, Natalie and I have been playing really well together, so its been giving us a lot of energy going into these final games and the Pac-12 tournament,” she said.

Arizona will play in Boise, Idaho, next weekend for a rematch against Boise State. They will then finish the regular season playing Sacramento State twice before heading to Los Angeles, Calif. for the Pac-12 tournament starting on April 25. 

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