UCLA (9-5, 4-3 Pac-12) had something to prove after getting swept at home by Oregon last weekend. They did that by dominating the Sun Devils on Wednesday night, winning 25-13, 25-20, 25-14 to notch the 1,300th victory in program history.
Arizona (14-4, 3-3 Pac-12) had to hope that UCLA was in for a letdown if the Wildcats didn’t want to be number 1,301 on the list of the vanquished.
That didn’t happen. The Bruins were able to win the important points in a tight three-set match, handing the Wildcats their third straight loss.
The match officially went down as a sweep, but both the stats and the final score of 26-24, 25-22, 25-23 tell the story of a hard-fought contest. UCLA led decisively in hitting percentage and service aces, but the teams were otherwise very close statistically. They were also close on the score board—especially in the first two sets, when the match was tied 17 times and saw seven lead changes.
Arizona was led in kills and digs by Paige Whipple, who returned to action after sitting out last weekend with concussion symptoms. Whipple was the only Wildcat with double-digit kills, finding the floor 11 times. That tied UCLA’s Mac May and Jenny Mosser for the match high.
It was the first match all season that Kendra Dahlke did not have at least 14 kills. She finished the night with nine.
The Wildcats will face USC (12-5, 4-2 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. MST.
The Women of Troy present a unique problem for Arizona with two players hitting over four kills per set: Brooke Botkin with 4.35 k/s and Khalia Lanier hitting 4.30 k/s. The pair ranks third and fourth in the Pac-12 in the stat, behind only Dahlke and Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer. USC is the only team with two hitters in the top 10.
The offensive juggernaut doesn’t end with the top two, though. Of the team’s six starters, four hit more than 2.50 k/s. In addition to Botkin and Lanier, Emily Baptista notches 2.90 k/s and Jasmine Gross has 2.57 k/s.
In contrast, Arizona has only Dahlke (5.17 k/s) and Paige Whipple (2.87 k/s) hitting more than 2.50 k/s.
As a team, USC is also efficient. Their .257 team hitting percentage places them one spot ahead of Arizona at fourth in the conference. USC ranks just behind Arizona in team kills and assists, coming in fourth in both categories.
They are superior to Arizona on serve (2nd in aces) and keeping their opponents from finding the floor (4th in digs), but rank last in the conference in blocks.
In Arizona’s favor, they do not give up a great deal of size to the Women of Troy. The Wildcats have faced several teams in the Pac-12 who have multiple players 6’3” or taller. USC does not present the same challenge.