Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio has experimented with the serve of Dilara Gedikoglu to make her strong serve “move the scoreboard” for the Wildcats instead of their opponents. On Friday afternoon, the Wildcats as a team moved the scoreboard for the Oregon Ducks far too often in a straight-set loss (19-25, 17-25, 15-25).
For the past two weekends, the inexperienced Wildcats had looked like they were starting to put things together. After being annihilated by the Utah Utes the opening weekend of play, they had played Washington—another ranked team—tough in two losses. Then they swept a shorthanded Stanford team in dominant fashion.
They were unable to ride that confidence to a competitive opening match in Eugene.
Oregon native Paige Whipple led the Wildcats with eight kills on .167 hitting, which was par for the course for a team that hit .119 on the day. The senior added seven digs and a block, contributing 8.5 points.
Sofia Maldonado Diaz was second on the team with seven kills and 7.5 points. She, too, had a low hitting percentage at .036. She tallied six digs, a block and an ace, but she also added six errors on the attack and three on the serve.
On the positive side, the middles had another strong day for the Wildcats. Zyonna Fellows and China Rai Crouch each had five kills. Fellows hit .364 and Crouch hit .500. Crouch also had two blocks.
Dilara with the & Zyonna with the ‼— Arizona Volleyball (@ArizonaVBall) February 12, 2021
Cats even it up early in set 3! pic.twitter.com/X00qIzdcIk
The problem for the Wildcats was how strong the Ducks were in the blocking game. Oregon had 12 blocks on the day. That doubled up Arizona.
That difference showed in the teams’ hitting percentages. The Ducks ended the match at .320. Their lowest hitting percentage in a set was .250 to open things up. The Wildcats' best percentage was the .171 they had in the opening set.
The two teams will be back at it on Sunday at 1 p.m. MST.