Arizona Volleyball Upsets Michigan State and Moves into Sweet 16


Arizona Volleyball knocked of Cleveland State in the opening round, then conquered Michigan State in a 5-set thriller in East Lansing to gain a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Cleveland State was the champion of the Horizon League, but Arizona’s tough Pac-12 grind gave them the experience they needed to sweep the Vikings (25-14, 25-17, 25-13). That win set them up for a match with host and No. 9 seed Michigan State in the round of 32.

The Wildcats were propelled by freshman middle blocker Devyn Cross, who had 10 kills and no errors in the match. She has been a strong presence at the net the last several weeks and has found her comfort zone even as a freshman.

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On Saturday night Arizona faced host Michigan State in front of an energetic Spartan fan base.

The Wildcats looked slow in the first set, losing 25-17. The match was live streamed on the internet via Michigan State, whose announcer made a reference to the Spartans advancing to play in Nebraska in the next round.

Arizona came out in the second set and pounded Michigan State. The Spartans had no answers for the ‘Cats’ aggressive play and successful kills. That type of play continued in the third set; the Wildcats were playing smarter and faster than MSU. They won sets two and three with scores of 25-16 and 25-19.

The fourth set went back and forth, with Arizona behind much of it.

Throughout the late stages of the fourth the lead went back and forth. Arizona had a match point but the Spartans answered, and soon had a match point of their own which they converted to win the set 26-24. MSU’s 19 kills in the set were a back breaker for the Wildcats.

Moving to the fifth set in Michigan State’s home gym must have brought back memories of the week before at Arizona State, when the Wildcats had four match points but lost to the Sun Devils in the fifth. Instead, that loss in Tempe may have provided the experience needed to pull out the upset on the road as the Wildcats never trailed in set number five in East Lansing, winning it 15-10.

Sometimes it’s best to come into a competition under the radar. Along with the Michigan State’s live stream announcer prematurely planning his trip to Nebraska, MSU’s coach admitted they got a little complacent after their easy first set.

This will make any Arizona Wildcat feel good:

The good news is the Wildcats advance to the Nebraska regional next weekend. The bad news is they will face No. 8 and Pac-12 Champion Washington Huskies. Washington swept Arizona this year–Arizona has only won a single set against them, so let’s hope three times is the charm.

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If you’re in the Lincoln area on Friday, December 9th, head to the Bob Devaney Sports Arena and cheer on the Wildcats. #BearDown and Beat the Huskies!