Sometimes style points count. They certainly did for Arizona volleyball coach Dave Rubio this week.
On Wednesday, Rubio was thrilled that the Wildcats played “winning volleyball” against North Carolina despite the fact that they lost 3-2. Two days later, he felt just the opposite about a 3-2 (19-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-17, 15-13) win over Sacramento State.
“We were fortunate to pull that match out,” Rubio said. “I mean, obviously it’s 15-13 in the fifth. (Sacramento State plays) with great enthusiasm and great passion, and we are just kind of going through the motions.”
The narrow victory over the Hornets was part of a 2-0 day at the Aztec Invitational. The Wildcats followed up their early match with a dominant 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-11) win over host team San Diego State. Arizona played a nearly flawless match in its second contest of the day.
As they were against North Carolina last weekend, all three of Arizona’s starting pins were both efficient and effective against SDSU. Jaelyn Hodge led the team with 15 kills on .444 hitting. She had just three hitting errors while committing zero errors in serving, blocking, and serve receive. Sofia Maldonado Diaz had seven kills and two aces against just three hitting errors while keeping her stat line free of all other error stats.
While her fellow pins had a huge impact on the change of course between matches, it was Puk Stubbe whose improvement between the two was most dramatic. In the early match, Stubbe had just three kills on -.067 hitting. She threw in two service errors to go with her three hitting errors.
Just six hours after the start of the first match, Stubbe’s positive impact on her team in the second match was amazing. She had 11 kills on 20 swings with no errors resulting in a .550 hitting percentage. She added an assist, an ace, six digs, and two total blocks.
“This evening, it was the best I’ve seen us play in I don’t know how long,” Rubio said. “(SDSU) is not a bad team. We’re playing at their place. And we were as efficient as I’ve ever seen us be.”