The No. 12 Arizona beach volleyball team continued their dominating season at the Pac-12 North Invitational on April 10-11. The Sand Cats defeated No. 7 Stanford 3-2, Washington 4-1, No. 11 Cal 4-1 but lost to No. 1 UCLA 0-5 at GCU beach volleyball stadium.
Saturday, April 10: Match one vs. No. 7 Stanford
After losing to Stanford at the Pac-12 South Invitational a few weeks ago, Arizona was hoping to reverse their fortunes this time. On court four, defender Dana Parker and blocker Mady Noble got the Sand Cats off to a great start, winning in two sets by scores of 21-13 and 21-14.
Blocker Alex Parkhurst and defender Alana Rennie kept the momentum rolling on court one, also defeating their opponents in two sets by scores of 21-19 and 21-15.
All the Sand Cats needed was one more pair victory to secure the match, and split blocker Sarah Blacker and defender Brooke Burling on court two were more than happy to do that for their team. After a close first set victory at 21-19, Burling and Blacker separated themselves in the second set by a score of 21-15.
Saturday, April 10: Match two vs. Washington
With their earlier season loss against Stanford now avenged, the Sand Cats turned their eyes to Washington. Parker and Noble came in clutch once again, dominating their opponents in two sets by score of 21-14 and 21-7 on court four.
Defender Natalie Anselmo and blocker Carly Lowry made their presence felt on court three, finishing off their opponents in two sets by scores of 21-16 and 21-17.
The only Sand Cat pair that pushed to three sets were defenders Jonny Baham and Olivia Hallaran on court five. Baham and Hallaran put themselves in an early hole, dropping a close first set 19-21. The Sand Cats regrouped and won the second set 21-14 and annihilated their opponents in the third set 15-4.
Sunday, April 11: Match three vs. No. 11 Cal
The Sand Cats returned for the final day of competition, beginning the day against Cal. The Golden Bears struggled their first day of competition, losing to both USC and Arizona State. With that in mind, Arizona was determined to hand Cal their third loss of the invitational.
Lowry and Anselmo got things rolling for the Sand Cats on court three, beating their opponents in two sets by scores of 21-18 and 21-11. On court five, Hallarn and defender Hope Shannon also bested their opponents in two sets by scores of 21-16 and 21-18.
On court two, Burling and Blacker were the only Sand Cat pair having a bit of trouble securing a victory. After edging their opponents in the first set 24-22, they themselves were edged in the second set 19-21. With it coming down to the third set, the Sand Cats did not want to give Cal any life. Burling and Blacker came out aggressive and stuck to the basics, which allowed them to win the third set 15-9. This victory marked Arizona’s third straight against top-15 teams.
Sunday, April 11: Match three vs. No. 1 UCLA
Now with an invitational record of 3-0, the Sand Cats were just one win away from sweeping the invitational. The only problem was their last opponent is the best team in the nation, with a record of 19-1 and currently riding a 15-match win streak. That team was the UCLA Bruins.
From the opening serve, the Sand Cats stood no chance. On court one, Parkhurst and Rennie got bounced early in each set, losing 12-21 and 9-21. It was no better over on court three, as Lowry and Anselmo also lost in two sets 14-21 and 19-21. Noble and Parker were the Sand Cats’ last hope on court four. They were no match though for UCLA as they too went down quick 14-21 and 17-21. Every Sand Cat pair lost in two sets, marking only the second time all year Arizona has been swept.
Even with the tough loss to UCLA, the Sand Cats have managed to finish at least .500 in all six of their invitationals this year.
Arizona will head to Idaho to face Utah (1 p.m. MST) and Boise State (5 p.m. MST) in the Boise State Invitational on Friday, April 16.
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