The University of Arizona volleyball team handily defeated their competition at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego. The team had victories over California State University, Sacramento, San Diego State University and the University of Maryland.
Day 1 - Arizona vs Sacramento St. (19-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-17, 15-13)
The Wildcats set the tone early in their first set pulling ahead to an early 11-6 lead led by multiple tactical kills by Jaelyn Hodge. This lead quickly vanished due to errors from the Wildcats and constant kills by Sacramento State to pull ahead for a first-set victory 25-19.
During set two the Wildcats made sure to rectify their mistakes from the first set as they came out on a 4-0 scoring run started by Hodge. They kept their pressure up as they forced repeated errors from the Hornets and continued to build on their lead.
Alayna Johnson made sure to have her presence felt as she went berserk scoring seven kills in this set to power the Wildcats to a decisive victory in set two 25-14.
The Wildcats went into the third set understanding this contest was going to be a back-and-forth battle. The third set began off with three errors from the Wildcats which put them in an early hole. However, after back-to-back kills from Hodge and Puk Stubbe, the momentum swayed back towards the Wildcats as they went on a 6-0 scoring run. The run was quickly halted as Sacramento State went on a barrage of their own and closed out this set with a 10-2 scoring run, which the Wildcats contributed to with their errors.
The fourth set began, and the intense energy in the atmosphere was palpable. The Wildcats were simply not ready to roll over and quit. Leading the team in kills, Johnson and Sofia Maldonado Diaz left their stamps on this match and in this set as they rallied the team to a wire-to-wire victory over the Hornets 25-17 entering the final set.
The final set began, and both teams traded kills and errors. Neither side backed off or gave an inch to the other until Maldonado, the leader of kills and aces for the entire match, ignited the Wildcats. After scoring two crucial kills and sparking a 5-0 scoring run, the Wildcats pulled away to win the match 15-13.
Day 1 - Arizona vs San Diego State (25-17, 25-15, 25-11)
The Wildcats came out in the first set all business as Hodge and Emery Herman played their back-and-forth assist and kill game while completely dominating San Diego State. They helped the Wildcats go on multiple scoring runs with their incredible teamwork, and they were the catalyst to Arizona's first set victory.
The Wildcats came out for the second set ready to go as Stubbe had two quick kills. Following her was Hodge as the Wildcats amassed a quick 7-3 lead. The intensity only increased from here as the Wildcats continued adding pressure on San Diego State, forcing repeated errors to help build on their lead.
Maldonado Diaz and Hodge would take advantage of their mistakes and add on back-to-back kills to close out the second set 25-15.
The third set and last match of day one of the Aztec Invitational ended with the Arizona's most dominant performance of the day: a 12-point lead for the Wildcats to end with a final score of 25-11.
The Arizona volleyball team endured a tough battle against Maryland on day two of the Aztec Invitational. The Wildcats came out of their sole match of the day victorious, leaving the tournament undefeated.
Day 2 - Wildcats vs. Maryland (25-22, 22-25, 19-25, 25-17, 15-11)
Day two of the tournament was a five-set war, each set seeing one team edge out the other. In the first set, it was a back-and-forth contest where each team traded kills and errors.
Maldonado Diaz and Hodge had two major back-to-back kills down the stretch to pull ahead of Maryland. Zyonna Fellows closed out the set with a quick and decisive strike to win set one 25-22.
Heading into set two the Wildcats came out fast, going up 6-2 almost instantly. However, Maryland battled back and went on a run themselves that was fueled by errors from Arizona. The Wildcats could not stop beating themselves down the stretch as Maryland continued to increase their intensity, closing set two on a 4-1 run to win 25-22.
In set three, Arizona looked to bounce back and reclaim the momentum of the match but fell short. Maryland went on a 4-0 scoring run and forced Arizona to call a timeout. However, after the timeout Maryland only continued on their run stretching it to 7-0. Maryland would win set three 25-19.
Heading into set four the Wildcats understood it was time to lock in as they were facing a very tough opponent. Stubbe and Hodge took over in this set as the leaders of kills for the match they each went on respective runs of their own to pull Arizona out of a hole and win set four 25-17.
Entering the final set, Arizona came out fast with a 7-3 lead. Maryland battled back, but Hodge delivered the dagger late in the set to end the match for the Wildcats with a 15-11 win.
Arizona leaves the Aztec Invitational undefeated on the weekend, 7-1 overall and undefeated at home for the season.
The team moves forward into the Wildcat Classic to play against Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in McKale Center in Tucson, on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m. MST.
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