Not so Sweet Sixteen: Wildcat volleyball ousted by nemesis Washington in a sweep
The Arizona volleyball team huddles together in McKale Center against Washington on Sunday, Nov. 8. The Huskies swept the Wildcats 3-0 for the second time this season at the NCAA tournament regional semi-final.
The Washington Huskies continued their dominance over Arizona and subsequently ended the Wildcats season in the Sweet Sixteen, 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18) Friday in the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.
What was expected to be a hard-fought battle between Arizona’s Setter of the Year, Penina Snuka, and Washington’s Player of the Year, Courtney Schwan, became a blocking party for the Huskies as Snuka and the offense were shut down early.
The first set was a blowout. Arizona never had a chance as Kalei Mau and Kendra Dahlke both earned negative hitting percentages with a combined nine hitting errors on twenty attempts. Despite Arizona’s play becoming more competitive as the match progressed, the Huskies’ dominating first set allowed Washington to set the tone for a sweep.
Washington held the Wildcats to a .110 hitting percentage with 26 attacking errors on 30 blocks. Arizona’s offensive leaders Mau and Dahlke couldn’t find their way around the block, each completing the match with hitting percentages under .050.
Mau struggled offensively against Washington with only nine kills and eight errors. As Arizona’s most efficient offensive player, her lack of execution was emphasized more when the rest of the team also struggled to put the ball away.
In their third sweep of the tournament, Washington will advance to the Regional Final where they will face No. 1 Nebraska. The two teams have an extensive tournament history with six previous meetings, the Cornhuskers having the 4-2 advantage.
As for the Wildcats, it is a look toward next year having lost nine of ten sets against the Huskies in total this season. Late subs against Washington previewed Rubio’s returning talent. Aside from starters Devin Cross and Dahlke, Tyler Springgs and Jade Turner put some kills on the board on Friday and will be looking for more of that when they assume bigger rolls next year.
This loss marks the final appearance in an Arizona uniform for seniors Mau, Snuka, Pilepic, Laura Larson and Mckenna Painton. In their last match, the seniors combined for a poor showing, but the senior class has much to be proud of. They achieved recognition as the winningest senior class in 13 years and four NCAA Tournament appearances.
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