Before Arizona (18-9, 7-8) left for their road trip to face the Mountain schools, coach Dave Rubio said that he believed that we would be as healthy as they had been in a while. That turned out to be the case against Utah (14-12, 6-9).
Senior Kendra Dahlke returned to the line-up after sitting out the last two weeks with a foot injury. She led the match with 29 kills and 33 points. She added 14 digs for a double-double, as well as serving two aces and putting up three total blocks (two assisted, one solo).
Makenna Martin, who was suffered a groin injury last weekend, also played as a defensive specialist. Martin’s leg was heavily wrapped and she didn’t occupy her usual libero position, but she was able to contribute after missing the last match-and-a-half.
Only Devyn Cross and Liz Shelton sat out of the match, cutting the list of the injured in half.
Unfortunately for Arizona, having more bodies didn’t lead to a victory. After building a 2-0 lead, the Utes would eventually hold on for the 3-2 win (26-24, 25-14, 18-25, 18-25, 15-11).
The first set was hard fought. The Wildcats led early, but began to lose control of the set when Utah tied it up at nine. The Utes wouldn’t trail again, building their lead to as many as five points on several occasions.
The Wildcats didn’t let it go easily, though. With the score at 20-16 in Utah’s favor, it looked over. Arizona wasn’t ready to let go. They fought back to tie it up at 24-24.
The comeback stalled there. Utah scored the last two points to take the 1-0 lead.
The momentum stayed on the Utes’ side into the second. Arizona put up little fight, quickly succumbing by a score of 25-14. They would have to win three straight to take the match.
They almost did it.
The third set was almost a mirror image of the second. From the point of a 5-5 tie, Utah quickly fell out of the set and never got back in. Arizona would build its biggest lead at 17-10, and keep the seven-point margin for the 25-18 win.
Arizona was equally dominant in the fourth. From a seven-all tie, the Wildcats began building their lead. They slowly widened the gap for another 25-18 set.
In the 15-point set, the two teams traded blows for more than half the period. At 9-9 in the fifth, Utah finally took the match by the horns, going on a 6-2 run to close out the match.
Julia Patterson led the match with 49 assists, throwing in 16 digs for yet another double-double. Emi Pua’a, taking over as the starting libero, led the Wildcats with 19 digs.
The Wildcats also had an effective night blocking. Dahlke’s three total blocks trailed only teammate Shardonee Hayes’ five for the match lead. Patterson had two blocks of her own. As a team, Arizona had eight.
The Wildcats will try to salvage a road split when they face Colorado in Boulder on Sunday at noon.