A snowy day in Boulder looked like it was going to be a cold day for Arizona (19-9, 8-8) on the court, too. After losing a five-setter to Utah Friday night, the Wildcats were looking to salvage the road split.
It didn’t look good early.
Colorado (15-12, 7-9) came out strong in the first, building a six-point lead on several occasions. The Wildcats tried to chip away, eventually closing the gap to a single point. But the Buffaloes found their footing again, closing the set out at 25-21.
After losing the first, it looked like Arizona was going to go away. The teams tied at six-all, and then Colorado ran away with it. The Wildcats would score only two more points in the set, getting demolished by a score of 25-8. They managed only four kills the entire set.
On Friday, Arizona fell into a 0-2 hole against Utah. They were able to push it to five sets, but came up short in the end. Sunday, they did one better.
The third set was an argument against the concept of momentum. Despite being held to single digits in the second set, Arizona looked like they were the team in control of the match.
The Wildcats quickly built a three-point lead. Later, it was a five-point lead. Then, they stretched it to a seven-point advantage. When the set ended at 25-16, it looked like Arizona finally had their feet under them.
The fourth set unfolded much like the third. After a 3-3 tie, Arizona took the lead and never relinquished it. After building their lead to as many as seven points, the Wildcats pushed it to a fifth set with a 25-20 win in the fourth.
The fifth was a close affair, with the final tie coming at 9-9. From that point, Arizona methodically built their lead, ending their three-set streak with a 15-12 win to take the match 3-2 (21-25, 8-25, 25-16, 25-20, 15-12).
On a day that saw Kendra Dahlke get fewer kills than typical, Candice Denny stepped up in a big way. Denny led the match with 16 kills on an extraordinary .583 hitting percentage. She also had an assisted block for a total of 16.5 points on the day.
“With every coming injury, just going to practice, the coaches do what they need to do so I’m ready to step in to do whatever role I have to,” Denny said.
She was ready to play a big role in Boulder. With most of the team struggling with efficiency, Denny’s .583 percentage was a bright spot. As a team, the Wildcats hit .174 for the match.
Paige Whipple and Dahlke also threw in double-digit kills with 15 and 13, respectively. Dahlke had eight digs and two service aces to go along with the kills, while Whipple threw in an assisted block and an ace of her own.
On the defensive side of the ball, setter Julia Patterson led the team with 12 digs, followed by Emi Pua’a with 11. Patterson also assisted her teammates 42 times and had two assisted blocks.
As a team, Arizona had a solid day on the block with eight total team blocks. Shardonne Hayes was part of five of those, followed by Zyonna Fellows with four.
The win salvages a road split, and allows the Wildcats to return to the state of Arizona to close out the season. They will play at home for three straight, then end the regular season with a visit to the Sun Devils at the end of the month.