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Wildcats Drop Season Opener to 10th-Ranked Utah

Jan 22, 2021

Box Score (PDF) | Boxscore

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Arizona volleyball dropped its first match of the 2020-21 season, falling in three sets to 10th-ranked Utah, 25-23, 25-17, 25-15 in the Huntsman Center on Friday night.

It was a tall task for Arizona, which started three true freshmen on the road at a senior-laden Utah team, which was selected as the overwhelming preseason Pac-12 favorite by the conference coaches. The Wildcats hung tough early, dropping the opening set by just two points, but struggled to slow the Utes in the second and third sets.

"With as much time as we'd had off, I wasn't sure what to expect coming into tonight," said head coach Dave Rubio. "I was pleased with Game 1. I thought we put ourselves in a position to win that set. I was disappointed in sets 2 and 3 in our ability to serve receive and to score points."

Newcomers Dilara Gedikoglu and Sofia Maldonado Diaz impressed in their first career matches at Arizona, with Gedikoglu just missing out on a double-double, leading the Wildcats in both kills (9) and digs (10). Maldonado Diaz had five kills, two aces and two blocks for the Wildcats in her first collegiate match. Paige Whipple had four skills while Jaelyn Hodge had three in her first career match.

"Dilara played a very good match tonight," said Rubio. "And she is a much better server than she showed, so I am excited to see what she can do this season."

Arizona debuted a new pair of setters, running a 6-2 offense, utilizing both of its first-year setters. Senior transfer Akia Warrior led the way with 11 assists while freshman Emery Herman had six assists and seven digs in her first career match.

The Wildcats struggled offensively, hitting just .029 in the match, while the Utes hit .280 on the night. Both teams had four aces and five blocks.

Arizona (0-1, 0-1 Pac-12) and No. 10 Utah (1-0, 1-0 Pac-12) will meet again on Sunday at noon in Salt Lake City.

Kills » Dilara Gedikoglu (9)
Assists » Akia Warrior (11)
Aces » Sofia Maldonado Diaz (2)
Digs » Dilara Gedikoglu (10)
Blocks » Zyonna Fellows (4)