TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Twice the No.21 Arizona volleyball team (18-10, 10-8 Pac-10) had No. 7 Stanford (24-6, 15-3) on the ropes, and twice it let the Cardinal back into the match. The failure to put the contest away led to a regular season-ending 3-0 Stanford sweep at McKale Center on Saturday. Game scores were 30-16, 33-31 and 30-27.
After coming out flat in the opening game, a frame in which Arizona hit .065 with eight errors against just 10 kills, and failing to capitalize on three game-point opportunities in game two, the Wildcats saw Stanford erase a seven-point lead with a 10-0 run in the final game to pull off the three-game victory.
Holding a commanding 27-20 lead in game three, Arizona lost momentum and its offensive rhythm as the Cardinal utilized the sharp serving of senior Ogonna Nnamani and five Arizona attack errors to pull off the unlikely 10-point run to cap off its 24th victory of the year. Prior to the late offensive struggles, Arizona had committed just two errors in the frame and seemed on its way to forcing a fourth game.
The Wildcats’ misfortunes in game three were magnified after failing to convert at the end of the second game. Trailing for much of the frame, Arizona battled back and reeled off a 5-1 run late to force game point at 29-28. The Cardinal answered to tie the score at 29-29 and twice more at 30-30 and 31-31 before an attack error by UA’s Kim Glass and a Nnamani kill ended the game and handed Stanford a 2-0 lead at the break.
Overall Stanford out-hit Arizona .269 to .165 on the night, out-blocked UA 11 to 5 and posted just three service errors to the Wildcats’ eight. Nnamani, playing her final match in Tucson, led all players individually with 22 kills on .367 hitting. Classmate Jen Hucke chipped in with 12 kills on 20 swings with just one error for a match-high .550 hitting percentage.
Juniors Bre Ladd, 12 kills on .409 hitting and three block assists, and Jennifer Abernathy, 13 kills on .320 hitting, were main Arizona threats on the night. One night after collecting 22 kills on .320 hitting against No. 14 Cal, Glass finished the night against Stanford with just nine kills and 11 errors for a -.051 hitting percentage.
Despite the loss on Saturday, the Wildcats should find themselves in position for a ninth-straight postseason berth in the NCAA tournament which begins next weekend. The NCAA selection show will be shown live on ESPNews at 4:40 p.m. MST time on Sunday.