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Jaelyn Hodge excels but Miami dominates Arizona volleyball

Haven Wray (left) and Jaelyn Hodge (right) at McKale Center on Aug. 25, 2023
Photo by Catherine Regan / Arizona Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes were receiving votes in the AVCA poll after the first week. After a 4-1 opening against a rather lackluster schedule, the Canes fell out. Arizona made them look like they were Top 10 mainstays.

Despite the strong effort of senior Jaelyn Hodge, the Wildcats fell into an old habit. After playing an impressive game against No. 1 Wisconsin on Thursday, they looked entirely overmatched by the less-celebrated Canes. They fought in the opening set, losing 28-26, but then meekly surrendered to the sweep with 25-13 and 25-17 sets.

Hodge was the only Wildcat with double-digit kills and the only one with more than one kill who hit in positive territory. She finished with 19 kills and just missed a double-double with nine digs. Her .386 hitting percentage sprung from a reliable attack with just two hitting errors.

Errors of all kinds were a problem for the Wildcats. Other than Hodge, the pins had 16 hitting errors. The middles added three and Setter Kasen Rosenthal added one more in her single set of action.

Hitting errors weren’t the only errors that put Arizona on the losing side, and Hodge fell victim to some of the other errors that plagued her team. The Wildcats had five errors on their serve. They added eight receiving errors, two blocking errors, and two ballhandling errors. That amounted to 17 points given away.

The errors were especially damaging in the opening set. Twelve of the Wildcats’ 22 hitting errors occurred in a set that Miami won by two points. Getting off on the wrong foot seemed to take the wind out of the ‘Cats’ sails. They never recovered after squandering two set points in the opening frame.

The second set was tight until both teams reached 11. Arizona scored just two more points to fall into a 0-2 hole.

The final set was much like the second. The 10-10 tie was the final threat by the Wildcats. They scored just two more points in the match.

Arizona falls to two games under .500 after losing both matches this weekend. The Wildcats return to Tucson for their final three games before Pac-12 play. They will enter their final season in the Pac-12 with a record no better than 6-5 after falling to 3-5 on Saturday.