There was no stopping the No. 9 Arizona beach volleyball team on Sunday, April 18. The SandCats defeated Washington and No. 15 Hawaii by match scores of 4-1 at the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle. These victories brought the SandCats season record to 20-4 and their Pac-12 conference record to 7-2.
Sunday, April 18: Match one vs. Washington
The SandCats began the invitational against the hosting team, the Washington Huskies. This match would be the final meeting between these two teams in the regular season, with Arizona winning the previous match at the Pac-12 North Invitational 4-1. Even though the Huskies had home field advantage, the SandCats took over their home turf.
Court four had the first finish of the day, with defender Dana Parker and blocker Mady Noble setting the tone for the SandCats. Parker and Noble made it look easy, defeating sophomore Hannah Yerex and senior Ashley Shook in two sets by scores of 21-12 and 21-6.
It was not as easy on court two for defender Brooke Burling and split blocker Sarah Blacker as Huskies Natalie Robinson and Avie Niece were giving them a lot of trouble. Both sets were close, but Burling and Blacker won the first in extras 23-21 and won the second set 21-15.
After going down 2-0, the Huskies knew that one more victory would put them away against Arizona and they were not ready to let that happen.
Blocker Alex Parkhurst and defender Alana Rennie had the opportunity to secure the match victory for the SandCats on court one against senior Shayne McPherson and junior Chloe Loreen. Parkhurst and Rennie dropped a close first set 17-21 but were not close at all in their second set loss 8-21.
Arizona would have to wait a bit longer to secure a match victory, but thankfully it was not too long as defenders Olivia Hallaran and Hope Shannon went to work on court five. The SandCats faced juniors Cassidy Schilling and Callie Weber and took them down in two sets by scores of 21-19 and 21-12. Shannon and Hallaran secured the match victory with their win and the regular season sweep against Washington, 2-0.
With the victory already secured, a lot of pressure was taken off blocker Carly Lowry and defender Natalie Anselmo on court three. After losing the first set badly 11-21 to Huskies Scarlett Dahl and Kyra Petersen, the SandCats used the time before the second set to refocus and learn from their mistakes. Lowry and Anselmo came back a completely different team, crushing the Huskies in the second set 21-8 and winning the third set 15-11.
Sunday, April 18: Match two vs. No. 15 Hawaii
After defeating Washington, it was a quick turnaround and now the SandCats focus diverted to No. 15 Hawaii. Arizona has not fared well against ranked opponents, with their record sitting at 3-4. The SandCats were determined to get even, as Hawaii would be the last ranked team they would face in the regular season.
Once again, Noble and Parker got the SandCats off to a hot start on court four. They must enjoy finishing first, because they eliminated senior Harlee Kekauoha and freshman Sabrina Hardisty early in two sets by scores of 23-21 and 22-20.
On court two, Burling and Blacker repeated their past match finish as well, only it was not the same result as last time. The SandCats won the first set against freshman Amber Igiede and junior Brooke Van Sickle 21-16 but dropped the next two sets 18-21 and 8-15.
With the match now even at 1-1, it was up to the fifth-year seniors Lowry and Anselmo to flex their muscles and give the SandCats a much-needed victory to avoid going down in the match. The SandCats had their hands full against freshmen Ilihia Huddleston and Kaylee Glagau, with both sets having close finishes. Experience won out, and the SandCats came out on top 21-19 and 21-16 on court three.
One pair of SandCats who did bounce back from their earlier loss was Parkhurst and Rennie on court one. With the match on the line, Parkhurst and Rennie stole the first set from sophomore Pani Napoleon and freshman Jaime Santer by a score of 21-19. Hawai’i bounced back and won the second set 21-17. The match came down to the final set, and the SandCats won in extras by a score of 16-14.
SandCats Hallaran and Shannon were pushed to three sets as well, but they pulled out the victory with scores of 21-15, 20-22 and 15-13 on court five. This was the first victory in program history for Arizona against Hawai’i.
The SandCats swept the University of Washington Invitational and finished their weekend 4-0, after sweeping the Boise State Invitational on Friday, April 16. This was also the SandCats fifth straight invitational series victory.
Arizona will face rival Arizona State for their final regular match of the season on Thursday, April 22, at 2 p.m. MST.
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