No. 23 Arizona volleyball hit the road this weekend to Los Angeles, California to take on two of their biggest Pac-12 opponents, UCLA and USC, in what became a very disappointing weekend for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats started out the trip by being swept by the No. 20 UCLA Bruins (26-24, 25-22, 25-23). Arizona held tight against UCLA in all three of the sets, but not tight enough to secure one point against the Bruins.
"UCLA played very well," said head coach Dave Rubio to Arizona Athletics. "We played well, too. Just not well enough."
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Sophomore Paige Whipple led Arizona with 11 kills and 14 digs, and junior Julia Patterson added 29 assists and 11 digs, making Whipple and Patterson the only Wildcats with double-doubles in the match.
Arizona out-blocked UCLA 7-5, but the Bruins out-hit the ‘Cats 0.221-0.179 in the three-game sweep. Thus, Arizona’s momentum was depleted in their tough loss to the Bruins before heading into Sunday’s match against the USC Trojans.
Arizona went into the second game of the weekend with their heads down after a brutal loss to the Bruins on Friday night. The No. 15 Trojans defeated Arizona in four sets (25-18, 22-25, 25-17, 25-16) on Sunday afternoon.
After senior standout Kendra Dahlke suffered a concussion on Friday night against UCLA, the Wildcats were without the Pac-12 leader in kills.
Sophomores Katie Smoot, Candice Denny and Whipple stepped up for the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon against USC. Smoot led the Wildcats with 13 kills, while Denny and Whipple each added 11 kills to the tally sheet.
"I thought Katie played terrific today," Rubio said to Arizona Athletics. "Overall, it was a tough match for us. I thought our first-contact skills weren't at the level we needed them to be. They were the far better team from the service line today."
After Arizona’s fourth-straight loss to a ranked opponent, the Wildcats fell to 14-6 on the season and 3-5 in conference play.
Catch the Wildcats back in action this Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. against Colorado and again on Sunday, Oct. 21 against Utah at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.
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