Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Volleyball Conquers No. 2 UCLA
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 08, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 8, 2011

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TUCSON, Ariz. -

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Arizona volleyball (11-6, 3-5) defeated No. 2 UCLA (14-3, 7-2) for its first victory over a top-2 team since 1993 on Saturday night at McKale Center. The last time the Wildcats defeated a team ranked in the top-2 was Nov. 10, 1993 when it defeated No. 1 UCLA, 3-2 at McKale Center.

Arizona handed UCLA only its third loss of the season (joining Pepperdine and Washington) and second loss in the Pac-12.

“They responded exactly how I would want my team to respond,” Arizona head coach David Rubio said. “UCLA didn’t come in here juiced and we are good enough to push a team like that.”

Freshman Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Ariz.) recorded her fifth double-double of the season and the led the team in kills for the 12th time with 16 kills and 11 digs.

Seniors Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles) and Courtney Karst (Centennial, Colo.) also posted kills in the double-digits with 13 and 14, respectively.

“We knew we have been struggling towards the end of games,” Karst said. “We tried to jump on them and stay up when we were up. They are the number two team in the country, so we knew they would do the same to us if they went up.”

In addition, sophomore Candace Nicholson (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded a career-high 24 digs for the Wildcats, more than any player this season.

An energetic Arizona team came out in the first set, outplaying UCLA in nearly every category. The teams tied the score at 9-9 when the Wildcats recorded consecutive kills by freshmen Taylor Arizobal (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Kingdon. The Bruins could not narrow the score after that and Arizona took set one, 25-21.

UCLA took over in set two, roaring out to a 9-1 lead. The Bruins recorded 13 kills to the Wildcats’ seven with a .500 hitting percentage to Arizona’s .037 and took set two, 25-10.

In set three, the teams played evenly until UCLA took charge at 10-10, going on a 9-2 run to make the score 19-12. The Wildcats could not make up the deficit and fell, 25-19.

Arizona and UCLA tied six times by the time the score reached 8-8 in the fourth set, but the Wildcats went on a 4-0 run to go up 12-8 and the Bruins did not come within three after that. Five players recorded kills for Arizona, and the Wildcats took set four, 25-18.

Set five was thrilling, as the Wildcats went on a 4-0 run when the score was tied at 4-4 to go up 8-4. Then it was UCLA’s turn to take control as it went on a 6-0 run to go up 10-8, but Arizona was not finished. Two kills by Karst and a block by Arizobal and Rachel Rhoades (San Diego, Calif.) put the Wildcats at a 7-2 run to close set five, 15-12 and take the match.

“We played a lot better during the difficult moments,” Rubio said. “And that put us in a position to win.”

Rhoades and Arizobal contributed four and three blocks for Arizona, respectively.

UCLA’s Rachael Kidder led all players in kills with 26 and Lainey Gera added 25 digs for the Bruins.

The Wildcats will hit the road again to take on Colorado in Boulder, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. PT and Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. PT.

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