Saturday’s match, like both matches a year ago, saw the Cougars top the Wildcats, this time doing so in four sets, 25-22, 25-21, 24-26 and 25-17.
Washington State was in cruise control for much of the match, behind 18 kills and eight digs from junior outside hitter Taylor Mims, who was the backbone of a seemingly-impenetrable WSU front line.
Kendra Dahlke was the bright spot for longtime Arizona Coach Dave Rubio, with 19 kills and 13 digs, posting a double-double for the Wildcats.
Dahlke praised the effort put in by her teammates on Saturday, but admitted the team will have to double-down to avoid similar pitfalls going foward.
“Overall I thought we played OK,” Dahlke said. “I thought that we struggled in some areas, especially in serving and receiving serves.”
Arizona’s front line did its share, with Dahlke, Elizabeth Shelton and Tyler Spriggs combining for 43 kills and 16 digs.
Devyn Cross, who had six kills and three digs on Saturday night, touched on a similar narrative, saying the team needs to get back to work this week in practice.
“I think to prepare for those games is just going to be about getting more reps in practice,” Cross said. “We’re going to have to go hard in practice, give 110 percent and just get in as many reps as we can in the amount of time that we have.”
The loss dropped Arizona to 7-4 on the season, ahead of the team’s Bay Area road trip against Stanford and Cal.
Arizona’s next match will be against the Cardinal in Palo Alto on Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the game broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
Rubio is well-aware of the daunting task ahead for his athletes when they reach the Bay Area.
“It’s not going to get much easier for us,” he said. “ We play Stanford, and it’s the land of the giants over there. Then we go and play Cal and they’re a lot like us ... So it’s going to be tough. The little hair that I have will be all gone, and the grey hair that’s there is going to be a lot more grey.”
Follow Christopher Boan on Twitter at @cgboan