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Arizona volleyball puts up little fight against California in sweep

Arizona volleyball’s Jordan Wilson (5) against UCLA on Oct. 6, 2023
Photo by Madison Farwell / Arizona Athletics

Against Stanford on Friday night, Arizona volleyball showed what it can be when things are all clicking. Even in a straight-set loss, the Wildcats fought and found a lot of positives. They followed that up with a performance against California that shows just how badly things can go. It was again a sweep by the opponent (25-20, 25-19, 25-14), but this time there were no real positives.

“The reality is they don’t believe in themselves,” said Arizona head coach Rita Stubbs. “And you don’t believe in yourself, there’s nothing coaches can do about it.”

Stubbs said that they went into the locker room between sets, which is something she generally does not do. Her challenges to them did not have the desired effect.

“The reality is everything that they’ve asked for—and this is what I told them and I have no problem saying it all now—everything they’ve asked for, we’ve complied,” Stubbs said. “‘We want to do this. I want to have fun, blah, blah, blah,’ all these different things and they’re giving nothing back.”

Arizona didn’t serve nearly as well as it did against Stanford, especially in the early going of the match on Friday night. The Wildcats had 11 service errors to just three aces and didn’t put as much pressure on the Cal serve receive.

The team also wasn’t very effective on its own serve receive. It didn’t help the setting to have the passing go so poorly, but there have been struggles with setting all season. Stubbs used all three of her setters, but they all ran into issues.

Ana Heath started but was replaced by backup setter Kasen Rosenthal in the second set. Each of them was called for a ballhandling error. In the third set, Ava Tortorello came in. Tortorello has largely been used as a defensive specialist this season, so it wasn’t a big surprise that she had two ballhandling errors and no assists in seven attempts. It took Heath 63 attempts to get 23 assists.

Despite the first two sets looking respectable as far as score, Cal was never really threatened. Arizona got as close as one point late in the first set, but the Golden Bears were always able to regroup and push their lead back to at least four points quickly.

Injured senior outside hitter Jaelyn Hodge played front row for the first time in two weeks. She ended with five kills on .100 hitting.

For the second straight match, Jordan Wilson was the only Wildcat with double-digit kills. She had 11 kills on .200 hitting but hit relatively efficiently for the first two sets.

Arizona falls to 6-17 overall and 1-11 in Pac-12 play. With eight matches to go, the schedule still includes home matches against ranked opponents Oregon and Arizona State. The Sun Devils swept No. 3 Stanford on Sunday afternoon while the Ducks swept Washington.