Arizona Volleyball returned to the McKale Center to take on the Oregon State Beavers on Friday night in a battle of the younger teams in the Pac-12. Once trailing big in the 3rd set, the Wildcats swept the Beavers.
Growing pains are to be expected of any team each year, and the two teams that have the most room for improvement squared off in the McKale Center in the opener of a two-match series between Arizona Volleyball, and Oregon State.
Dave Rubio’s team returned home, looking to bounce back following a pair of tough losses against Oregon last week.
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In what was a memorable game for the Wildcats, Arizona came away with the big-time sweep over Oregon State, winning 25-22, 25-19, 26-24.
A hot start was once again in the cards as the Wildcats jumped out to an early, 11-8 lead. As has been the case through basically every game this season, Sofia Maldonado Diaz got off to yet another quick start, converting on five kills for the Wildcats through the teams’ first 15 points.
In a matchup that was sure to be exciting for Arizona Volleyball, the teams battled back and forth with things staying tight right up to the end.
Being tied at 22, Arizona rallied to come away with a first set win 25-22, With Maldonado Diaz pacing the Wildcats with six kills and hitting .545. Emery Herman added with 10 assists and a pair of aces.
In the second set, the Wildcats once again jumped out to an early 11-8 lead, however, this time they were able to build upon it instead of letting the Beavers tie things up on their way to a 25-19 win. Jaelyn Hodge chipped in with five kills on the set giving her seven for the match, while Maldonado Diaz added another five kills, and Herman added with 12 assists and another ace to pace the Wildcats.
The third set was all Beavers, as they controlled the game jumping out to a 17-11 lead. However, the Wildcats were not to go away quietly, clawing their way back to tie things up at 21, before taking things to bonus points where they took the set 26-24.
Maldonado Diaz once again paced the Wildcats’ attack in the third set, adding another five kills, while Herman again directed the offense with another 11 assists and surprise… another ace for the Wildcats.
The third set comeback by the Wildcats is something experienced teams do, and it should give Wildcats Volleyball fans a significant sense of excitement as the Wildcats completed the sweep without the services of senior Paige Whipple.
For a recruiting class as heralded of what the Wildcats welcomed in 2020, the accelerated progression we are seeing from Hodge, Herman, and Maldonado Diaz is still unexpected to see this quick.
This team is set to be good for years to come, and while at times this season it may have looked like this team was far away from where they need to be, it seems the future may very well be now.
Just think, one of their more heralded recruits has yet to get on the court, as Lauren Ware is currently starring as a top reserve for Adia Barnes and the Top Ten Women’s Basketball program. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!