CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The No. 20 University of Arizona volleyball team fell 3-1 to Northwestern Friday evening in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the University of Northern Iowa.
Northwestern, boosted by aggressive serving from the start, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on Arizona and eventually took the match in four sets. UA, staved off elimination coming out of the intermission by winning set three, 25-18, could not slow the NU hitters at key points throughout.
Senior Whitney Dosty recorded 19 kills for Arizona while Tiffany Owens and Cursty Jackson each added 10 kills. Paige Weber, who tied a school-record by starting her 123rd match of her career, finished with 42 assists. Owens, along with her 10 kills posted 12 digs to set a new single-season digs mark at Arizona with 414 on the year.
"You never want to fall in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, so the loss is tough, but I'm proud of our team's effort," said head coach Dave Rubio. "Northwestern played a great match and served extremely well. We could not defend their attacks at critical points in the match."
In set one, NU received seven kills from middle blocker Naomi Johnson and hit for .394 to go up early on Arizona. Tied at 13, Northwestern went on a 6-2 to move comfortably ahead in the set, eventually winning on a kill from Stephanie Holthus, 25-18.
Set two was more of the same as NU opened up a 10-6 advantage and Arizona was forced to play from behind the entire way. Trailing by seven, Arizona mounted a comeback capped by an ace from Weber that made things 20-16. Northwestern hung tough however and would not let UA back into it, winning the second, 25-20.
Arizona showed some toughness over set three, not letting NU dictate play, like it had done in the previous two. With the score tied at 11, Arizona rallied on a 7-2 run, forcing NU into costly attack errors at the net. Danielle Holloway provided energy off the bench in the third, serving well and playing stout defense with UA winning 25-18 to force a fourth set.
UA attempted to carry over its set three momentum into the fourth, and it did mid way through, but both NU's Christina Kaelin and Madalyn Shalter recorded four kills in the set to lead their team to a 25-20 win. The NU Cats used a 4-1 run at the mid way point of the set and Arizona did not have an answer.
Arizona closes out the 2010 season finishing with an overall record of 20-12. It is the team's second consecutive opening round defeat in the NCAA Tournament, falling to Texas A&M last season in Baton Rouge, La.