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Cats Take Two to Open Arizona Invitational

Sep 5, 2014

TUCSON No. 23 Arizona volleyball needed just six sets to dispatch of its first two Arizona Invitational opponents on Friday, downing Alabama State 3-0 (25-19, 25-9, 25-8) and Loyola-Chicago 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-21) in the first event in McKale Center after the renovations.

“The arena was beautiful," said head coach Dave Rubio. "I’ve played in a lot of arenas and I’m not sure if there is one arena for volleyball that’s going to present it as well as that. It was really just spectacular. The scoreboard, video boards, lighting, seats, curtains, it was amazing. Now if the players can be as spectacular as the venue then we got something pretty special.”

Arizona improved to a perfect 5-0 on the season with the two victories on Friday.

The Arizona Invitational continues tomorrow when Loyola-Chicago meets Alabama State at 3:30 p.m., followed by Arizona’s meeting with reigning Big West Champion Cal State Northridge at 7:00 p.m. PDT.

Match 1 – Arizona 3, Alabama State 0

Twenty-third ranked Arizona volleyball defeated Alabama State in straight sets (25-19, 25-9, 25-8) Friday morning in McKale Center in its home opener and the first ever event in the renovated McKale Center.

The Wildcats used a balanced offensive attack, with seven different Wildcats getting three-or-more kills, led by reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Madi Kingdon who registered 12 kills, marking the fourth time this season in four games, and 81st time in her career, that the senior has had double-digit kills.

Filling in for Penina Snuka, who is day-to-day with an ankle injury, transfer Whitney Hunt received her first start in an Arizona uniform and promptly dished out 27 assists and picked up four kills on four swings. The junior also added eight digs, second on the team.

The Wildcats’ defense was spectacular, limiting Alabama State to a -.012 hitting percentage. Arizona out-blocked Alabama State 6-0, led by Rachel Rhoades’ three blocks. UA out-dug Alabama State 41-31, led by Ronni Lewis’ 11 digs. The senior’s 11 digs gave her her fourth double-digit-dig match this season in as many tries.

The Wildcats hit .388 in the match, their best effort of the season.

Arizona held Alabama State to a .103 hitting percentage and Arizona took a hard-fought first set, 25-19. Alabama State controlled the first set in the early going, stretching its lead to 13-11 over the Wildcats. Arizona would grab the next six points to grab a lead it would not relinquish.

The Wildcats dominated the second set, scoring 14 of the game’s final 17 points, en route to a decisive 25-9 victory in the second set. Arizona hit .545 in the set while limiting Alabama State to a -.080 hitting percentage.

The third set was more of the same as Arizona cruised to a 25-8 victory while posting a .550 hitting percentage in the frame. . It was Arizona’s biggest victory since Arizona defeated Morgan State 25-6 in the 2013 season opener on Aug. 30. Kingdon registered six kills in the set on nine total attacks. Arizona’s defense was stellar once again, holding Alabama State to a -.143 hitting percentage.

 

Match 2 – Arizona 3, Loyola-Chicago 0

 

Arizona used stellar defense to contain Loyola-Chicago in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-21) victory in the nightcap on Friday.

The Wildcats had nine blocks as a team, four by Madi Kingdon and three each from Halli Amaro and Rachel Rhoades, while the unit limited Loyola-Chicago to a .046 hitting percentage in the match.

Kingdon was dominant on offense as well, picking up 18 kills on 40 swings and posting a .350 hitting percentage.

Penina Snuka, returning from an ankle injury which kept her out of Arizona’s first game of the day, dished out 23 assists and added six digs in the match.

Ronni Lewis led the Wildcats with 10 digs.

 

The Wildcats dominated the first set, taking advantage of 14 Loyola-Chicago errors and cruising to a 25-14 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Madi Kingdon recorded kills on her first two swings on her way to six kills in the set. The senior hit .500 in the set, helping Arizona to a .476 hitting percentage in the set. The Cats got it done defensively in the frame as well, holding Loyola-Chicago to a .100 hitting percentage.

Arizona cruised to a second-set victory as well, defeating Loyola-Chicago 25-17 in the frame. Kingdon notched five kills while Kalei Mau added three of her own. UA struggled to a .189 hitting percentage in the set, but limited Loyola-Chicago to a .026 figure.

The third set was a closely contested battle that saw the teams battle within two points of each other until Arizona grabbed a 13-10 lead and never looked back. Arizona would go on to hit just .128 in the set, but recorded six blocks and held the Ramblers to a .000 hitting percentage.