Everything went well for the Arizona volleyball team in their match on Friday, Feb. 19, as they swept Oregon State by set scores of 25-22, 25-19 and 26-24 in McKale Center.
The story of the night was the immaculate performances from outside hitter Sofia Maldonado Diaz and setter Emery Herman. Maldonado Diaz came out roaring with 11 kills in the first two sets.
No matter where the ball was, Maldonado Diaz found it and sent it flying over the net. Herman had two kills of her own, along with 22 assists in two sets. Herman also had four of the team's five aces.
The third set was when the match got intense. Arizona was down for most of the set, and at one point, the score was 17-10 Oregon State. With their backs against the wall, Arizona dug deep and found their confidence once again. They broke the Beaver dam loose and went on a 13-4 splurge to take a commanding 23-21 set lead.
Oregon State retaliated with its own 3-0 run and was one point away from forcing another set. Then, Oregon State middle blocker Aliyah McDonald had two straight attack errors and Arizona middle blocker Zyonna Fellows finished the match with a thunderous kill.
The Wildcats were obviously laser-focused in the final set because when asked about it, setter Akia Warrior had no idea they were down by that much.
RELATED: Key takeaways from Arizona women's volleyball team head coach Dave Rubio’s virtual press conference
“We were down by seven? Oh, my goodness,” Warrior said. “This was the first match that we really fought. We grinded it out throughout the entire game. It never really felt like we were down because we stayed together throughout the entire set.”
Maldonado Diaz mirrored her teammate’s thoughts after the game.
“I felt the energy was never lacking throughout the whole game,” Maldonado Diaz said through her interpreter. “Although we were down by a few points, the energy was always there, and we were willing to fight back.”
Even with incredible performances from Herman and Maldonado Diaz, head coach Dave Rubio feels it is too early to be putting superstar labels on any player.
“We got a long way to go before we can start talking about it in those terms,” Rubio said.
Rubio did however praise his younger athletes and felt that they will only get better as the season progresses.
“I think the future is really bright for all the freshmen. For Emery [Herman], for Sofia [Maldonado Diaz], for China [Rai Crouch] and Jaelyn [Hodge].”
The Wildcats will look for the season sweep against the Beavers on Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. MST.
Follow Sean Fagan on Twitter