TUCSON, Ariz. – Three players recorded double-figure kills but it was ultimately the defense that lifted Arizona (13-5, 3-3 Pac-12) to a 3-2 (25-23, 22-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-12) comeback victory at Washington State (15-4, 2-4 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon inside Bohler Gym. The win was the first on the road for the Wildcats so far this season.
Both teams played excellent defense on the afternoon as neither squad hit about .125 for the match. The Wildcats finished the match with 17 blocks and a season-high 93 digs. Meanwhile, they also added nine service aces to tie a season-high.
Five players recorded more than 10 digs for the Wildcats led by 20 digs each by Candace Nicholson and Penina Snuka. Snuka also dished out a match-high 42 assists to go with three blocks and a kill. The 20 digs were a career-high for Snuka and the double-double was her eighth of the season. Meanwhile, Ronni Lewis added 18 digs for the Arizona defense.
Madi Kingdon and Jane Croson both had a tough day offensively but they also both recorded double-doubles. Kingdon was strong down the stretch as she finished with a team-high 19 kills with 16 digs, three service aces and two blocks. Croson had 16 kills, 11 digs and three service aces.
The opening set was full of runs by each team. Arizona jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead just to see Washington State record the next three points to pull within one. After the Cougars battled back to tie the score 10-10, Arizona won the next three points to regain a three point lead. Another 3-0 run by the Cats later in the set gave them a decisive 20-14 advantage. It looked as if the Wildcats would cruise to the victory but WSU reeled off six straight points to tie the score. After some back and forth play, Arizona managed to take a 24-22 lead. After WSU pulled to within one, a kill by Croson clinched the set for the Wildcats, 25-23. Croson and Kingdon each had six kills to lead the Wildcats in the set.
The second set was back and forth throughout much of the frame. Washington State was the first to take a significant lead as it turned a one point lead into a 19-16 advantage. The Wildcats battled to cut the lead to one but with the Cougars in front 23-22, WSU won back to back points to close out the set, 25-22.
Arizona got off to a solid start in the third set as the Wildcats went in front 14-9. The Cats remained in front 17-13 until a 4-0 run by Washington State tied the score. However, Arizona answered with a 4-0 run of its own to regain a four point advantage. Then, the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to take a 24-21 lead with set point opportunities. After the Wildcats won the next two points to pull within one, WSU clinched the set with a kill by Kyra Holt.
The Wildcats once again got off to a strong start as they jumped out to a 9-4 advantage in the fourth set. Arizona remained in front before Washington State battled back to tie the score 15-15. The Cougars could not take the lead; however, as the Wildcats reeled off five straight points to go in front 20-15. The Cats went on to tie the match after cruising to the 25-17 victory in the set.
The decisive fifth set was back and forth as the two teams battled to a 10-10 tie. The Wildcats then went on their most timely run of the afternoon as they reeled off four straight points to earn match point at 14-10. After two straight points by the Cougars which forced an Arizona timeout, the Cats clinched the match on a kill by Kingdon.
Kyra Holt led the way for Washington State with a match-high 21 kills to go along with 18 digs.
The Wildcats return home for a pair of matches next weekend. They host No. 23 UCLA on Friday at 6 p.m. for the annual “Dig Pink” event. It will also air on the Pac-12 Networks. Meanwhile, they will host No. 1 USC on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and it will also air on the Pac-12 Networks.
For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat volleyball, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and be sure to follow the team on Twitter @ArizonaVBall.