Arizona volleyball stays hot at home during Wildcat Classic
Arizona volleyball hosted the Wildcat Classic this weekend at McKale Center before kicking off conference play next week. The Wildcats improved to 10-2 on the season after letting up one set in their three games all weekend against Alabama State, New Mexico State and Sacramento State.
The Arizona Wildcats defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 3-0 on Friday night at McKale Center after defeating Alabama State by the same score earlier that day.
The Wildcats won the first set against the Aggies by a score of 25-19. This set was hard fought throughout, as New Mexico State came out fast with a 2-0 lead. Arizona battled back to tie it up at six apiece after an Elizebeth Shelton kill. The set would stay competitive - it was tied at 17 - but the Wildcats would pull away down the stretch and take the win.
The Wildcats would also go on to win the second set 25-19. It was close throughout, but Arizona maintained a lead on the Aggies for most of the set. The 'Cats did not pull away until late, finally ending the set with a huge block by Elizebeth Shelton.
Arizona would win the last set 25-22. New Mexico State had a hold on the majority of this set. The Wildcats finally gained control after a kill followed by a block from Devyn Cross. New Mexico State had a late comeback in this set, but Arizona was able to hold on.
“We need to keep this going, we have good chemistry. It's always fun to go out and win,” said middle blocker Zyonna Fellows on Friday's doubleheader wins.
Arizona finished off the Wildcat Classic on Saturday, defeating Sacramento State by a final score of 3-1. This victory capped off their perfect 3-0 record on the weekend and extended their winning streak to eight games going into conference play next week.
The Wildcats had a 21-consecutive victorious set streak, not dropping a single set since they played West Virginia on Sept. 7. That changed quickly on Saturday when Sacramento State battled for every point, ultimately winning the first set 28-30.
Each team kept retaking the lead, but the match slowed down when Coach Dave Rubio won an “out of bounds” challenge call, re-setting the score back to 24-24. At that point, the game was tied several more times with a chance for Arizona to win it at 26-25 but unfortunately could not hold on despite a strong effort and special play from Paige Whipple, who led the team with 21 points on the day.
Arizona looked like a new team for the rest of the match. They won the second and third set convincingly (25-16 and 25-12). Finally, the Wildcats got redemption from the first blown set and managed to secure the match, winning the final set 25-23. Whittnee Nihipali stepped up today with 12 kills and 3 blocks. Devyn Cross and Elizabeth Shelton also contributed 10 kills and a few blocks each.
“Obviously, it’s against and at ASU when we open up, so it’s going to be a tough match," said UA senior setter Julia Patterson. "We’re just going to use that confidence and trust that we built with each other during this time of non-conference play, and use that going forward. ASU is a great team this year. We’re going to have to step up and really play for and trust each other and play how we play and not air ourselves out."
The Wildcats are back in action on Sept. 26 to kick off conference play against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz.
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