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Arizona volleyball’s lack of confidence continues in straight-set loss to Oregon State

Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

Arizona volleyball had a chance to keep a good thing going. The Wildcats got their first weekend sweep in Pac-12 play last week. Facing Oregon State, which came in with an RPI of 150 compared to Arizona’s 129, was a prime opportunity to keep the good feelings rolling. The Beavers had other ideas in a 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 26-24) victory early Friday evening at McKale Center.

“Not a knock against Oregon State,” Arizona head coach Rita Stubbs said. “I don’t think we put up a fight so I don’t think they had to do much of anything other than just get the ball in the court. I mean, maybe their scouting report was make us flustered and not have confidence because that’s what we did.”

The confidence issues have plagued Arizona all season.

“It’s like everyone’s, ‘How do you build up someone’s confidence?’” Stubbs said. “Well, at the end of the day, it’s your ability to execute. Because if I tell you you’re good and you don’t think you’re good, we’re just exchanging words. And so they don’t have a lot of belief in themselves when it really matters.”

The lack of belief or commitment leads to self-inflicted wounds. Those were once again in evidence on Friday.

“I told them in the locker room, I said, ‘Is there pretenders?’” Stubbs said. “It’s kind of like the person that wants to be a millionaire that will say I want to be a millionaire but won’t save money, won’t go get a job, won’t invest, won’t do the things but will just keep telling you that so you can believe me. And so, as a result, we have people that want it. I don’t doubt that everyone wants to be good and wants to win, but either they’re not physically capable of doing their job at a high enough level or they are being exposed along the way because they’re not serious about what they’re doing. There’s a huge lack of self-accountability.”

The opening set was a close, hard-fought affair. Oregon State hit .424 and Arizona had a .333 hitting percentage. The Beavers performed better at the end of the set, though, which has been the case in many Arizona losses.

Despite losing the opener, Arizona responded at the beginning of the second. The Wildcats went up 12-6. From that point, they won only six more points to drop in a 2-0 hole.

Arizona had eight hitting errors in the second set and just nine kills, hitting .029 for the set. The Wildcats added six serving errors and were called for being over the center line or in the net several times in the final two sets. They ended the night with 10 service errors, 21 hitting errors, a setting error, a blocking error, and three receiving errors.

None of Arizona’s hitters reached double-digit kills. Jaeyln Hodge accounted for the most points with nine kills on .032 hitting and three total blocks (one solo). She also had 12 digs.

Arizona’s most efficient pin was Jordan Wilson. The sophomore had eight kills on .190 hitting. Overall, the team had just a .126 hitting percentage.

Only one of the Beavers had double-digit kills, but that’s all they needed. Mychael Vernon ended the match with 11 kills on .250 hitting.

“I think because she’s small,” Stubbs said about Vernon’s effectiveness. “Most small people tend to have to prove to you that they’re bigger. Napoleon Complex a little bit. But she hits on her way down, so it’s about timing. And we struggled. I mean, at the end of the day, she only had 11 kills, four errors on 28 swings. And she had a couple out of the back row that scored. So not a knock against Oregon State by any means, but it was all of us. I mean, we were just sloppy and not ready to go.”

Arizona next takes the court against No. 6 Oregon on Sunday at 12 p.m. MST.