TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Twice the Arizona volleyball team (9-4, 0-1) held late leads in its Pac-10 opener against Arizona State (9-3, 1-0), and twice it failed to hold them, as the Sun Devils snapped a five-match losing streak to the Wildcats with a four-game win at McKale Center on Friday. Game scores were 30-21, 21-30, 30-25, 30-28.
After splitting the first two games of the match to head into the break tied 1-1, UA held a 24-21 lead in game three only to see ASU go on a 9-1 run to steal the game, and go up 2-1 in the match. Game four went the same way, as Arizona pulled ahead 28-23 and appeared headed to even up the match, but Arizona State reeled off seven straight points to stun their in-state rival for the 3-1 victory.
“It was a tough way to lose,” Arizona head coach David Rubio said. “It hurts, but also it has to harden us a group as well. I thought we deserved to win this match, but we got stuck in a couple of rotations late in the match (that ASU took advantage of). We’re young and this will happen. It is certainly frustrating and I didn’t feel like we rewarded with how well we played to get the leads in the third and fourth games.”
Statistically, neither team was particularly sharp on the night, with Arizona out-hitting Arizona State .098 to .089. The Wildcats finished with a season-high 21 total team blocks to the Sun Devils’ 13, but ASU countered with a 7-to-1 advantage in service aces. Individually, ASU's Nicole Morton finished with a match-high 21 kills on .267 hitting, while UA's Dominique Lamb was a force at the net with 11 total blocks on the night.
Game one started out poorly for the Wildcats, as the Sun Devils started on a 5-0 run, raced out to an 11-3 lead and never saw their advantage over the Cats dip below six points throughout the frame. Arizona proved to be its own worst enemy, recording more kills than ASU in the game ?- 14 to 12 ?- but also posting 10 attack errors and hitting at just a .083 clip.
Arizona seemed to put things together in the second frame, as it hit a match-high .279, collecting 18 kills on 43 swings with only six errors and the victory seemed to shift the momentum back to the Wildcats after the break. However, the two improbable ASU runs in games three and four doomed the Cats to their second-straight loss.
Arizona will head out on the road to the Bay Area next weekend for conference matches at No. 6 Stanford on Friday and No. 8 Cal on Saturday. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.