TUCSON, Ariz. – Madi Kingdon had a double-double with 18 kills and 21 digs to lead the Arizona volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-27, 25-20, 25-19) victory over Northwestern to open the Outriggers Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge on Thursday night inside the Stan Sheriff Center.
Arizona improved its record to 6-1 on the season, while Northwestern dropped to 4-3.
It was a bit of a struggle on the offensive end for Kingdon as she hit just .123 on the night, but she picked up the slack defensively with her team-high 21 digs, while also matching a team-high with two blocks. Halli Amaro came up big on the offensive end with 13 kills on a team-best .480 hitting with just one error. Shaquillah Torres and Taylor Arizobal also finished with double-figure kills on the night. Meanwhile, freshman Penina Snuka dished out 48 assists to go along with nine digs, three kills and a block. Snuka got the Cats off to a strong start by recording 18 assists in the opening set.
Arizona held Northwestern to just a .170 hitting percentage. In addition to Kingdon’s 21 digs, Candace Nicholson had 18 digs and Ronni Lewis added 13 for the Wildcats. Arizona hit just .201 on the night despite recording an impressive .349 attack efficiency in the first set.
With both teams battling evenly in the opening set, Arizona took control of the lead thanks to a timely 5-0 run to break a 14-14 tie. Amaro keyed the run with four of the five points on kills. Northwestern pulled to within one at 22-21, but Arizona held on late thanks to kills by Kingdon and Magill and a service error to end the set by Northwestern. The Cats took the frame, 25-22. Snuka quarterbacked the offense by dishing out 18 assists, while Kingdon led the way with six kills.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout much of the second set, but Northwestern turned an 18-18 tie into a 23-20 advantage. After Northwestern earned set point at 24-22, Arizona won three consecutive points to earn set point of its own at 25-24. However, Northwestern won the next three points to win the set, 27-25. There were 15 ties and six lead changes in the frame.
Arizona broke a 13-13 tie by winning seven of the next eight points to build a 20-14 lead. It looked like the Cats may cruise to victory but Northwestern battled back to pull within two at 21-19, which forced an Arizona timeout. After the break, Arizona won the next three points to earn set point. Northwestern won the next point, but Arizona closed out the set on an attack error.
After each team had a 4-0 run in the fourth set, Arizona turned a 17-17 tie into a 20-17 lead. Northwestern won the next point to pull within two, but Arizona won the next four to earn match point at 24-18. Amaro keyed the run once again with three kills in the sequence. Following a Northwestern kill, Arizona closed out the match thanks to a kill by Torres. The Wildcats hit .220 in the set, while Northwestern hit just .172.
Monica McGreal led Northwestern with 12 kills, while Carolina Niedospial had a match-high 28 digs to lead the defensive efforts.
The Wildcats are back in action tomorrow as they continue the Outriggers Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge against Portland State at 8:00 p.m. (MST).
For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat volleyball, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and be sure to follow the team on Twitter @ArizonaVBall.