When Arizona volleyball travelled to Southern California to face off against UCLA this weekend, the Wildcats showed no mercy, dominating the net on both sides and defeating the Bruins in consecutive sets (25-20, 26-24, 27-25) en route to their 13th win of the season.
“To beat any one of the two Los Angeles schools isn’t something that happens very often,” Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio said. “It’s a real credit to the players and the team to be able to go on the road on a short week, play on Wednesday night, have a tough five-set match turnaround and leave on Thursday, and then have to play the match on Friday against a team that’s playing on two days’ rest. I’m proud of how we were able to tough that situation out. It’s a real example of what we’re trying to accomplish as a group.”
Before Friday, the last time Arizona swept the Bruins at home, and the first time a team headed by Rubio won a duel in straight sets in LA, was in 2011.
“We played flawlessly against UCLA,” senior middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said. “There was a ‘never say die’ kind of attitude about our team. We knew for a fact before we even stepped on the court that we were going to win the match.”
Regardless of how Arizona performed against the Bruins, Rubio said the team still has things it needs to improve on.
“Our swinging percentage still is a little low; our back row attacking location and our setting still need to be better,” Rubio said. “We’ve been really focusing on trying to get more offense through the middle of the court. We did a better job against UCLA. I think we got more space to hit around. ASU really did a good job at scouting us and were prepared for McKenzie [Jacobson].”
Jacobson claims Pac-12 Conference honors
Redshirt freshman McKenzie Jacobson was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after providing vital contributions in Arizona’s five-set victory over No. 19 ASU at home and sweep of No. 20 UCLA on the road.
Jacobson, who found herself taking on a starting middle blocker role after Rhoades was sidelined due to a concussion earlier this month, has provided the Wildcats with steady defensive presence in the middle.
Jacobson also possesses strong attack abilities and hasn’t been shy in showing them off. In the UA’s 3-0 rout over the Bruins, Jacobson was in on eight of Arizona’s 15 blocks, had three solo stops and led the team with a .500 hitting percentage comprising seven kills on 14 attempts. Against ASU, she compiled a career-high eight kills and additionally added five blocks.
“I’m pleasantly surprised that she’s been able to perform at the level she’s performed at, but it’s a credit to her willing to be coachable, work hard every day and continue to get better,” Rubio said. “It’s obvious we’re pretty excited about her because not too many freshmen are doing what she’s doing. We’ve got a little bit of depth now, which is nice.”
Moving on up
After back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, the Wildcats are now ranked No. 14 overall in the Monday’s AVCA coaches poll.
Arizona is one of seven ranked Pac-12 teams, including No. 1 overall Stanford and No. 4 overall Washington, which leads the nation for most teams ranked from one conference.
Looking at this week’s Pac-12 schedule, there are three matchups between ranked conference foes.
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