Wildcats Edge Lobos, 3-2
Sept. 19, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. – Forced to play five sets for the first time all season, the Wildcats bounced back after dropping sets two and three to ultimately beat New Mexico in five sets. Set scores were 26-24, 14-25, 12-25, 25-14, 15-13.
Tiffany Owens notched a career-high 29 kills for Arizona which only hit .116 and recorded 52 kills through five sets.
“New Mexico is a darn good team. I knew they would come out and play well,” said Dave Rubio. “Jeff (Miller)’s teams are always well-prepared and always compete. I was really impressed with the fight they showed out there tonight. We had hardly any offense tonight but we just found a way to get it done. I was proud in game four when we came back and game five could have gone either way and I’m just happy we were able to pull it out.”
Play was tight throughout set one as the Wildcats benefited from a few close calls by officials. After it was tied 24 all, the Cats took the next two points and the match for the early 1-0 lead. It was by far their closest set one win this season as they have not dropped their opening set against any opponent.
Games two and three were quite a different story as Arizona only could muster 14 and 12 points respectively in those sets. Salpointe Catholic grad and New Mexico setter Jade Michaelsen was key for the Lobos over this stretch as her team looked to put the match out of reach.
The Wildcats would bounce back however on their homecourt. Aided by better accuracy, Arizona went onto win the set 25-14 and forced a deciding fifth game.
Play would go back-and-forth in the determining game with Arizona trying to pull away but New Mexico responding to the Wildcat challenges. It wasn’t until Arizona sealed the win with a kill from Dana Hutchinson that the home team (and crowd) could breath a sigh of relief.
Owens, who also posted a season-high with 59 attempts to go with her career-high in kills, still managed to tally a solid hitting percentage of .373.
“I’m happy, I’m shocked,” said Owens. “I had no idea I had that many kills. It is exciting, but I’m glad we just got the win overall.”
Alanna Resch was the only Wildcat with double-digit digs with 13. The Lobos recorded more kills, less errors and hit for a better percentage than Arizona but down the stretch, the Cats made the big plays when it counted.
“We are not going to take anything for granted,” added Rubio. “Tomorrow will be a tough match. At this point, we are trying to build a case for the postseason and I think we have made a good start to that.”
Tomorrow Arizona will take on UTEP at 11 a.m. to begin day two action of the Arizona Invitational. UTEP fell to New Mexico today in three sets.