For two sets, it looked like Arizona volleyball was a worthy challenger to No. 12 Washington. The third set, however, showed just how dominant the Huskies can be when everything is clicking as they completed the sweep by a score of 25-20, 25-22, 25-12.
Going into the match, Washington seemed to have the advantage on the block and serve. The Huskies came in with two players in the top 10 in blocks per set and two in the top five in aces per set.
“Washington serves the ball better than anybody in the conference,” Arizona assistant coach Matt Dyck said earlier this week. “And they can really pinpoint you and put a lot of pressure in certain areas of the court, and they can limit what you can do on your third contact after the serve. And they can also put pressure on people, just with the serve itself. So historically, that’s kind of always been what’s been hardest for people when they play against Washington is just overcoming the serving pressure.”
The Huskies’ serve grew stronger as the match wore on. In the opening set, they had four service errors without an ace. In the final two, they had a total of four aces with three errors.
On the block, though, it was the Wildcats who came out ahead with seven blocks to five by the Huskies. Washington also had more blocking errors. But it wasn’t enough for Arizona to overcome one advantage that head coach Dave Rubio has been pointing out all season in this first year of the super senior.
In the end, what Washington had that Arizona did not was experience. The Huskies were led by junior Claire Hoffman with 15 kills and super senior Samantha Drechsel with 13. Both hit over .400.
Arizona countered with sophomores Jaelyn Hodge and Sofia Maldonado Diaz. Hodge led the Wildcats with 12 kills on .241 hitting. Maldonado Diaz was close behind with 10 kills on .304 hitting. The only other Wildcat to get more than two kills was freshman Puk Stubbe with six on .182 hitting.