Arizona volleyball’s season finale did not quite go as planned.
After wrapping up games at McKale Center with promising wins over Colorado and Utah, the squad dropped three sets against the Cougars on Wednesday night 3-1 and couldn’t pull out a win Friday night against the Sun Devils in Tempe, falling 3-1.
Going into the weekend, head coach Dave Rubio said his team was exactly where it needed to be.
Unfortunately, a tough schedule and a young team kept the Wildcats from making the cut for the NCAA tournament this year, as Arizona was left out of the tournament field when the selections were announced on ESPNU on Sunday.
“Every match in the last four matches I knew was going to be very difficult for us,” Rubio said. “With a team as inexperienced as ours is, you’re just not sure.”
The Wildcats ended the 2012 season with a 16-15 record and went 8-12 in the Pac-12. Both Washington State and Arizona State hosted senior nights against Arizona.
“Ten new players from different areas not really knowing each other, and then adding six girls who were already here — that’s been our biggest challenge,” junior Emily Kiser said.
Freshman Halli Amaro led Arizona against the Cougars with kills off the right side, hitting a .423 and four blocks. The squad was only able to take the second set, 25-17, from the Cougars.
“Halli and Olivia [Magill] dominate that net,” sophomore Shaquillah Torres said. “Even though I give it to Madi [Kingdon] and Taylor [Arizobal] for getting a lot of touches, Halli and Olivia have really worked as a combination on the net.”
Against state rival ASU, Madi Kingdon recorded her 13th double-double to close the season with 17 kills and 12 digs.
“Madi has had to carry our team a lot through this season, especially in the beginning,” Torres said.
Sophomore libero Ronni Lewis recorded career and match highs with 23 digs.
The team was riding its confidence from a weekend of sweeps prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
With back to back losses, Arizona was right on the cusp for consideration going into the post-season. Arizona’s RPI ranking dropped five spots as a result of the losses, to 50. Torres said finishing the season out with wins would have insured the team’s position for the post-season.
For the Pac-12, Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, USC and Washington all sit in the Top 20 and will be in the tournament, with the Cardinal at No. 1. Arizona State and Cal will also represent the conference in the post-season.
“We’ve got a little bit of substance to us now, a little bit of depth, a little bit of knowledge,” Rubio said. “So we’ve got some history about us and that’s really important. I think we can now build a championship level team.”