TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The No. 17 Arizona volleyball team claimed the title of the University Plaza Wildcat Classic tonight with a sweep (30-25, 30-26, 30-25) of Northwestern in the championship match at McKale Center. With the win, Arizona improves to 3-0 on the season.
“When you win the first tournament of the year it always gives you a good start,” Head Coach Dave Rubio said. “It’s nice to walk away a winner.”
“I don’t want to sound overconfident, but I knew we’d be good,” he continued. “I got that feeling during our two-a-day practices during the fall. I wasn’t sure how good we would be, but now I can see how good we are after playing some other teams.”
Senior Jennifer Abernathy was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 4.67 kills on .400 hitting, 1.78 digs, 0.89 blocks and 0.44 service aces.
Fellow seniors Kim Glass and Bre Ladd were also named to the team. Glass averaged 4.67 kills, 3.00 digs and 0.78 blocks over the three games, while Ladd averaged 2.56 kills, 1.00 blocks and 0.44 service aces.
Arizona out-hit Northwestern .345 to .221 on the match and out-blocked them 7-3. Arizona also had five service aces and a season-low six service errors on the match.
Abernathy led the team with 16 kills, six digs and three blocks. Glass added 15 kills and 10 digs, while Ladd tallied 10 kills and two service aces. Sophomore Dominique Lamb had a team-high four blocks to go along with eight kills.
In a close contest, Arizona won the first game 30-25. Arizona hit .355 on the game, compared to the .154 of Northwestern. Arizona also out-blocked Northwestern 5-1. Abernathy led Arizona with seven kills, while Leonard had six digs.
In game two, Arizona trailed early, but used a 5-0 run to take a 9-5 lead. Northwestern slowly chipped away at it and tied the game at 16. Northwestern then led by as many as two before Arizona took the lead back for good with a 5-0 run. Arizona hit .255 on the game, while Northwestern hit .205. Glass paced the team with eight kills.
The third and final game went back and forth, with no team leading by more than three points. Late in the game, Arizona used a 3-0 run to put the game away for good. Arizona out-hit Northwestern .469 to .308. Ladd and Abernathy tallied five kills each to lead the team.
“What Northwestern provided for us was a peek at the areas in which we need to improve,” Rubio noted. “We are lacking in offense at the opposite side. Also, our blocking positioning needs to improve.”
Arizona travels to Santa Clara, Calif., for the Bronco Invitational next Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 8-10. There the Wildcats will face No. 15 UC Santa Barbara, host Santa Clara and Fresno State.
Mary Hock Winthrop
Lindsey Laband Georgia Tech
Bre Ladd Arizona
Kim Glass Arizona
Julie Purcell Northwestern
MVP: Jennifer Abernathy, Arizona