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Arizona volleyball escapes upset bid by Oregon State in five-set victory

Arizona volleyball’s Jaelyn Hodge (11), Alayna Johnson (32), and Emery Herman (4) against Oregon State on Oct. 30, 2022 at McKale Center.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

After the four-set loss against No. 18 Oregon on Friday night, Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio said that Arizona “just can’t function” without senior outside hitter Dilara Gedikoglu on the floor. To that end, he made changes to the Wildcats’ starting lineup on Sunday against Oregon State.

Not only did Gedikoglu get the nod, but usual starter Sofia Maldonado Diaz was back in the opening seven after losing her starting spot last game. It was just enough for Arizona to escape with a 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10) win over Oregon State. It gave the Wildcats the season sweep of the Beavers.

It wasn’t a pretty win by any means. The Wildcats started strong, but the Beavers gave them everything they could handle in the middle three sets.

Maldonado Diaz and Jaelyn Hodge led Arizona with 22 kills apiece. Hodge did it on .391 hitting while Maldonado Diaz hit .265. Maldonado Diaz had eight digs, six total blocks and 25 points. Hodge contributed five digs, four total blocks, and 24 points. Both also threw in three service errors.

Gedikoglu was also effective on offense. The senior had 10 kills on .320 hitting. She added two assists, an ace, and four digs. That stat line gave her 11 points.

Fifth-year senior middle blocker Zyonna Fellows had a matching eight kills and eight total blocks for 12 points.

The Wildcats came out and built a 10-5 lead, prompting Oregon State to call time. It didn’t stop the bleeding, as Arizona eventually went up by eight on several occasions. Another Beavers timeout at 22-14 still didn’t dent the onslaught. Arizona extended the lead to nine for the first time at 23-14. That was the final margin.

The Beavers were unfazed by the 25-16 loss in the opening set. They never trailed in the second set as the Wildcats looked out-of-sorts and were often out-of-system. OSU had a lead of as many as six points in the middle of the set. Arizona got as close as two points at 23-21, but it was too much to come back from.

It looked like OSU was going to take the 2-1 lead late in the third set. Arizona led by three at 14-11, but the Beavers wouldn’t let go. They flipped the script and built their own 21-17 lead. The Wildcats won eight of the final 10 points of the set to take the one-set lead.

Oregon State once again came out ready in the fourth. The Wildcats called time with the Beavers leading 7-3. After the timeout, the Wildcats won four of the next five points to pull within one, but they couldn’t get the lead. Arizona had only one lead in the set—at 1-0—before letting Oregon State tie the match once again.

The Wildcats finally put their collective foot down in the fifth set. The Beavers took the 1-0 lead on a service error from Arizona setter Emery Herman, but it was their only lead of the set.

Arizona led by as many as seven in the final set. The Wildcats got to match point at 14-7. The Beavers erased three of the match points, but they couldn’t climb out of the hole they were in.

Arizona moves to 13-10 on the season and 3-9 in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats travel to UCLA and USC next week.