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Errors and serve receive do Arizona volleyball in against Washington

Sophomore MB Alayna Johnson (32) had a strong game in Seattle, but the Arizona Wildcats struggled.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Arizona volleyball has done a lot of good things this season. The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in opponents hitting percentage. They are third in blocks per set. They are sixth in digs per set. The problem has been errors at the wrong times and the ability to terminate points.

On Sunday afternoon, the errors cropped up again as Arizona fell to No. 15 Washington in three sets (25-16, 25-22, 25-15). It dropped the Wildcats to 2-8 in Pac-12 play as the first half of the conference season comes to a close.

Arizona went toe-to-toe with Washington finding the floor, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their own errors. The Wildcats had 39 kills to the Huskies’ 40. The difference was how clean UW played, committing just six hitting errors to UA’s 13. Both teams hit over .300, but Washington outpaced Arizona considerably .405 to .321.

The serve continued to let the Wildcats down, as well. On Friday night, they had 14 service errors in a five-set loss to Washington State. Two days later, they threw in 12 errors on their own serve in just three sets. Arizona had only two aces to offset those errors.

Those errors played into the Wildcats winning only 11.8 percent of their service points in the first set. When the match ended, they had won just 20 percent of those points.

On the other side of the net, Washington got over the serving issues that cost them in a five-set loss to Arizona State on Friday. The Huskies had nine aces to six errors on Sunday. Those led to nine receiving errors for the Wildcats.

To make matters worse, Arizona gave away four points on blocking errors and another with a ball-handling error.

Sophomore middle blocker Alayna Johnson was the most effective player on the court for the Wildcats. She was second on the team with eight kills while leading the match with a .636 hitting percentage. The second-year player also led the match with 3.0 blocks. She tied Jaelyn Hodge for the team lead with 9.5 points.

The Wildcats had difficulty staying with the Huskies. Washington came out ready to redeem itself after the loss on Friday. The home team never trailed in the first set, and began to put Arizona away midway through the set. A five-point lead at 17-12 quickly became an eight-point lead at 22-14.

The Wildcats put up a fight in the second set, leading by as many as three at 11-8. The Huskies flipped that with a 12-4 run, taking a five-point lead at 20-15. Arizona fought back with its own 6-1 run, trailing by a single point at 21-20. That was as close as it would get, though.

The Huskies put their foot down in the third set. It unfolded much like the first, although Arizona head coach Dave Rubio made some late lineup changes to see if the team could fight back. Freshman Ana Heath came in to set for Emery Herman. Dilara Gedikoglu came in for Puk Stubbe, and defensive specialist Haven Wray saw some playing time.

It wasn’t enough. The Wildcats went down easily in the third set. Once again, they fell behind early and never made a real push.

Arizona returns home next week to host Oregon and Oregon State.