No. 20 Arizona volleyball concluded nonconference play this past weekend after dispatching Coppin State, Tulane and UMBC each in straight sets to sweep the Wildcat Classic.
The Wildcats (11-1) now possess a 6-0 home record and haven’t lost a set to opponents this season in McKale Center.
“It was nice to be able to get three wins this weekend,” UA head coach Dave Rubio said. “I thought there were moments where we played really clean volleyball. … As my assistant would say, this was just a dress rehearsal; now, it’s on to the big stage.”
During Saturday’s duel against UMBC, the Wildcats held the Retrievers under control during the first two sets and cruised to consecutive 25-11 scores.
The Wildcats grabbed hold of the lead for the first time after an 8-2 run and led the Retrievers by a point, 18-17. With a 4-1 run of its own, UMBC promptly retaliated to pull ahead 21-19, but Arizona battled, ultimately outlasting the Retrievers in the final leg of the set to come away with a 25-21 victory.
“I think in the first two sets, we played really clean — probably the cleanest we’ve ever played,” senior outside hitter Taylor Arizobal said. “Our communication helped us out a lot in the end of it, but we really improved our passing over the last couple points of the game. And great passes lead to great sets, which lead to kills, and that’s always a plus.”
Arizobal, senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon, junior middle blocker Halli Amaro and sophomore setter Penina Snuka set the tempo for the Wildcats offense on Saturday. Amaro led the way with a .615 hitting percentage and nine kills, a season high.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker McKenzie Jacobson, who garnered her first start this weekend in place of an injured Rachel Rhoades, finished the tournament with 20 kills, three solo blocks, two digs and an assist on .600 hitting.
“She knows the ropes and what to do and what not to do,” Amaro said of Jacobson. “She’s been working really hard in preseason and during double days; she takes every rep seriously. I’m not surprised at all that she’s dominating.”
In Arizona’s matches on Friday, it took the Wildcats the minimum six sets to defeat Coppin State (25-13, 25-23, 25-18) and Tulane (25-10, 25-21, 25-18).
The UA was dominant in the first set against the Eagles and cruised to victory behind a six-kill performance by Arizobal. In a more competitive second set, Coppin State battled Arizona before being outlasted by the Wildcats. Kingdon and Arizobal finished the match with 13 kills apiece, while Amaro and Jacobson notched nine and seven, respectively.
In the face-off against the Green Wave, Arizona dominated the net and out-blocked Tulane 8.5-0. Amaro gathered four block assists and two solo stops to lead the Wildcat defense. Snuka recorded her ninth double-double of the year and second of the day after tallying 36 assists and 14 digs.
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