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Arizona remains undefeated after Day 1 at the Borderland Invitational

The Wildcats beat Montana and UTEP to extend their winning streak to eight

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Saturday, the Arizona football team hopes to be able to conquer an early start time when they kick off against Houston at 9 AM MST. They need only look to the volleyball team’s results in Las Cruces to see that an early start doesn’t have to be an obstacle. The Wildcats beat Montana and UTEP on Friday to improve to 8-0.

Here are the recaps for both matches.

Match 1: Arizona 3, Montana 0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-14)

The Wildcats opened the Borderland Invitational against Montana at 9 AM on Friday. They didn’t waste any time getting their coach one step closer to 500 wins, defeating the Grizzlies in straight sets. The win improved their record to 7-0 and earned head coach Dave Rubio his 497th Division I victory.

Arizona was coming off three straight-set victories at last week’s Cactus Classic. In their seven matches this season, they have only been pushed beyond the third set twice—a four-set win over Sacramento State and a five-set win over Utah State in the opening weekend.

The Wildcats dominated the first set. Kendra Dahlke alone had almost as many kills as the entire Grizzlies team, posting nine to Montana’s eleven.

Montana tried to come back in the second, and they were much more effective. After hitting only .140 in the first set, they improved to .345 in the second. While they only had 12 kills for the set, they were helped immensely by only committing two errors.They still came up just short, falling to Arizona 23-25.

After coming up short in the second, the Grizzlies disappeared in the final set. Their hitting bottomed out at -.061 and they were only able to manage eight kills while making ten errors. The Wildcats made short work of things, ending the match with a 25-14 third set.

Dahlke had 18 kills for the match, while Devyn Cross and Elizabeth Shelton threw in eight and seven, respectively. Julia Patterson’s 37 assists paced the team in that stat, and Makenna Martin led the team with 16 digs.

Match 2: Arizona 3, UTEP 1 (25-21, 28-26, 20-25, 25-23)

After the quick straight-set victory in the first match, Arizona had a much tougher challenge on their hands in the afternoon face-off against UTEP.

Paige Whipple, who is still trying to return to form after suffering an umbilical hernia in the offseason, started the match with a kill for Arizona. It was the beginning of an impressive match for Whipple. She had seven kills and an ace—with only one attack error and one service error—to help the Wildcats to a 25-21 win in the first set.

The team as a whole played efficiently in the first set, but struggled in the second. UTEP rushed out to a 5-2 lead, leading Rubio to call a timeout. The Miners then pushed it to 11-5, forcing a second timeout by the Wildcats.

The Wildcats tried to respond, but UTEP held their lead for most of the set. They would push the margin to six on one more occasion before Arizona finally got back into the set for good.

With the score at 15-9 in favor of the Miners, the Wildcats went on a 11-5 run to tie it at 20 apiece. The teams traded set points—two for Arizona and one for UTEP—before the Wildcats finally capitalized on their third opportunity. Arizona took the 2-0 set lead by a score of 28-26.

UTEP wasn’t done by a long shot. After letting the second set slip through their fingers, the Miners had every opportunity to go away. Arizona was not able to close it out, though, losing the third 20-25 to give UTEP new life. For the first time since they left Sacramento two weeks ago, the Wildcats were pushed beyond three sets.

The fourth was another tight set, with neither team leading by more than two points until Arizona reached match point at 24-21. Even then, the Miners were not willing to go away. They fought back to 23-24 before ending the match on a service error to give Arizona the 3-1 victory.

Whipple paced the team in kills and points, putting up 18 kills on a .405 hitting percentage. She also had a service ace, an assisted block, and six digs while accounting for 19.5 points.

It was the first time this season that Dahlke didn’t lead the team in kills or points. She was still a big part of the team’s success, adding 16 kills to keep her season-long streak of 15+ kills per match alive. The eight-match streak puts her one shy of tying the Arizona record for such outings set by Kim Glass in 2003.

Dahlke also threw in 10 digs, two service aces, and two assisted blocks, ending up with 18.0 points.

Patterson had 50 assists for the match. She also contributed seven digs and three assisted blocks.

The win moves Arizona to 8-0 on the season, and gives Rubio his 598th Division I victory. The Wildcats will go for their ninth win of the year Saturday at 11 AM MST when they face New Mexico State. UTEP falls to 2-5.