Oct. 13, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz.- It wasn't supposed to be this hard. Up two games to none against a team that finished tied for last in the conference a season ago. A team that you had beaten seven straight times. Yet the seventh-ranked Arizona volleyball program (11-3, 6-3 Pac-10) stumbled to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Huskies in McKale Center Saturday night. Game scores were 30-20, 30-15, 32-34, 28-30, 15-13.
The match appeared favorable enough for the Cats in the first two games, where the biggest problem was a mixup in the rotation at the onset of game two. A quick substitution fixed that and the Wildcats cruised. Arizona dominated the first two games, hitting .300 in the first frame and .438 in the second, while limiting the Huskies to .095 and .065 attack percentages. Four Arizona players had at least six kills at the intermission.
After the break, the Huskies played Arizona point for point in the third, a trend that they would continue right up to the final play of the match. Neither team led game three by more than three points until Arizona used a string of points to pull to match point at 29-26. However, the resilient Huskies battled to tie the third frame and eventually pull out the victory, 34-32. Arizona's hitting percentage took a nose dive, as the Wildcats committed almost twice as many errors in game three (16) as they had in the first two games combined (nine).
The fourth game was an identical twin of game three. The two schools were neck and neck throughout, with the lead never growing past three points for either team. The Wildcats continued to be their own worst enemy, as they committed nine more errors and gave up five points alone on service errors in the game. The Huskies got to match point at 29-26 and survived a scare at 29-28 to hold on and even the match at two games a piece.
Game five started out the same for Arizona, miscues and hitting errors. Fortunately for Wildcat fans, UA put it together to avoid the upset. The teams traded points back and forth. Washington held the biggest lead for either school when it went up 9-7 early on. The match boiled down to a make or break point at 13-13. A block by UA's Erin Sebbas and Dana Burkholder earned Arizona its first lead since 7-6. Arizona prevailed in match point on a attack error by the Huskies' Lisa Underhill to remain undefeated at home for the season.
The match produced a number of individual highlights for Wildcat players. Burkholder picked up her fourth career triple-double in the win to tie Arizona Associate Head Coach Charita Johnson's school record. The senior setter tallied 10 kills, 68 assists and 14 digs. It is the first trifecta for the Cats this season.
Three other Wildcats finished with double-doubles. Senior Jill Talbot led all players with a career-high 24 kills on .571 hitting and also tallied a match-high 18 digs. Juniors Lisa Rutledge and Shannon Torregrosa had 23 and 15 kills, respectively, and 14 digs a piece. Freshman Kelli Mulvany matched a career high with 10 digs in the back row and junior Stefani Saragosa contributed 10 kills and six block assists to the Wildcat effort.
Arizona returns to the road next weekend with a trip to Oregon. The Cats will face the Ducks on Friday and the Beavers of Oregon State on Saturday. Both matches are set for a 7 p.m. first serve.