clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona volleyball sweeps Oregon State for first Pac-12 win

Arizona volleyball’s Jaelyn Hodge (11) goes for the kill against ASU on Sept. 21, 2022 in McKale Center.
Photo by Madison Farwell / Arizona Athletics

After opening the Pac-12 season with two matches where they just weren’t consistent enough, the Arizona Wildcats rose to the occasion with a straight-set victory over Oregon State. The 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 match gave Arizona volleyball its first conference win and improved its overall record to 11-3. It was the most complete match they had played since early September.

“It was the first time we played well since the San Diego State weekend,” said head coach Dave Rubio. “So that was better. I thought the first two sets were really good for us and I think it was good to be able to finally play kind of how we’ve been practicing...So that part was very good. I liked that. Set three, we got a little loose, lost a little bit of concentration.”

Jaelyn Hodge led the Wildcats with 12 kills on .281 hitting. In a season when Arizona has focused on containing its errors across the board, Hodge had just three attack errors. She added a block assist to lead the match with 12.5 points. She also had four digs.

“Jaelyn has been so steady for us on the left,” Rubio said.”She’s really been so good. I’m really proud of how she managed her game. If you take a look at her stats in the last several weeks, several matches, she’s kind of done the same thing. For me, [hitting] anything above .250 is fantastic. Now, she could score a little bit more, but some of that is the setting. You kind of want them scoring with a 37 percent rate and erroring at about a 13 percent. And for us, Jaelyn is right in that. She could score a little bit more, but I like how she’s managing her game right now.”

As a team, Arizona was fairly successful in limiting its attack errors. The team had 16 attack errors on 117 attempts, putting them just over that 13 percent mark as a group.

Hodge and fellow outside hitter Sofia Maldonado Diaz combined for just five errors on a total of 54 attempts between them. Maldonado Diaz had seven kills, a service ace, and a block assist for 8.5 points.

Arizona also got production out of its middle blockers. Fifth-year senior Zyonna Fellows contributed eight kills on .438 hitting with just one error. She tied Wildcat setter Emery Herman for the match lead with 4.0 total blocks. That was good for 10 points from Fellows.

Sophomore MB Alayna Johnson had six kills, including the one that sealed the win on match point. She added three block assists for 7.5 points.

“It was nice to see,” Rubio said. “We have been working so hard on setting the middle more. So today was a good opportunity to get some reinforcement because we’ve been working on it for so long. And AJ and Z really did a nice job. A lot of that has to do with Emery. [She] set the middle well, and we had the opportunity to set the middle more. That comes down to serve receive and ball control, so all that was good.

The Wildcats started quickly by building a 5-2 lead, but the Beavers went on a 4-1 run to tie it at 6-6 in the first set. Arizona would build a lead, then have Oregon State reel them back in.

The Beavers took their first lead at 16-15, but they had difficulty building on it. They could never put more than one point between themselves and the visiting team. The last tie came at 20-all. From there, Arizona put together a 5-1 run to close out the first set.

Arizona again built a 5-2 lead in the second set only to have Oregon State go on a 6-3 run to tie it at 8-all. That was as close as the Beavs would get for the rest of the set.

The Wildcats led by as many as nine points, eventually going up 23-14. The two teams traded points over the final four points of the set, but the hole was too deep for the Beavers.

In the final set, Arizona’s serving was not quite as sharp as it had been through the first two sets. After committing a total of one service error all match, the Wildcats had four in the final set. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Beavers were able to build a lead early on.

“I think that we just get a little sloppy and lost the sense of urgency,” Rubio said. “We started off with three missed serves in a row. I mean, we haven’t done that all season. Normally we’re way better than that. We’re consistent.”

Arizona was able to recover from those early errors. The Wildcats chipped away at the Beavers’ lead to finally tie it at 12. From there, the two teams traded the lead back and forth. Neither was able to grab more than a one-point advantage until Arizona went up 19-17.

The Wildcats didn’t trail again as they put the bow on their first conference victory of the season.

“I’d like to see us a little more dialed-in in the third set,” Rubio said. “The first two were good, really. The kids are pretty focused throughout those two sets, and set three we let go of the rope a little bit, got a little sloppy before we were able to kind of be dialed back in. And that’s just part of the process. It’s not going to be perfect. But the thing that we need to do is make sure that we’re aware of it, and then next time we’re in that position we’re not letting go of the rope.”

The next opportunity to put that into practice will be against the Oregon Ducks on Sunday at 12 p.m. MST.