There’s always a chance of a letdown after a big win, especially with a young team. Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio was worried about that after the Wildcats’ big win over Stanford on Friday. This time, he didn’t need to worry. Arizona put together its second dominant win with a 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-18) victory over California.
“This year, we haven’t been very good on Sundays,” Rubio said. “It’s been pretty dramatic between the Fiday night match and the Sunday afternoon... Today was by far our best performance in terms of being ready to play on a Sunday afternoon.”
The underclassmen led the Wildcats with double-doubles by both Puk Stubbe and Sofia Maldonado Diaz. Stubbe was dominant with 17 kills on .517 hitting. Her 10 digs went with a block and 17.5 points.
Maldonado Diaz was not as efficient as Stubbe, but she also added 10 digs to 13 kills. Her two total blocks were good for 14.5 points.
The offense wasn’t all about kills on Sunday. The Wildcats were able to move the scoreboard with their serves. The team finished with six aces, five of them by libero Kamaile Hiapo.
Senior middle blocker Zyonna Fellows was effective on the block, getting four of the team’s seven total blocks. Her fellow senior MB Merle Weidt had seven kills on .538 hitting.
“Z had a good night,” Rubio said. “I think offensively, Z could do a little bit better. Merle played well offensively. And I think Z did well defensively in blocking.”
The Wildcats controlled the first set from the start, building a 10-2 lead. Hiapo had three of her aces in the run. They eventually stretched that lead out to ten points at 18-8, maintaining that lead until the end.
It was a bit more challenging in the second set. Arizona built a 7-4 lead, but the Golden Bears used some effective serving of their own to close it to one point. Two straight aces by Darian Clark put the scoreboard at 7-6. The Wildcats pulled away several times, but Cal was able to reel them in each time, tying things up at 24-24. Kills from Weidt and Jaelyn Hodge put Arizona ahead 2-0.
The Wildcats had another quick start in the final set, getting out to an 11-4 lead. The Bears made it a three-point set several times, including at 21-18. They could not get closer as the Wildcats closed the match on four straight points.
“It was a good weekend for us,” Rubio said. “Anytime you can go 2-0 with the Bay Area schools, it’s a good one.”