After capturing a pair of tournament victories in the two previous weekends, a 0-2 start in Pac-10 play is not the kind of beginning the Arizona volleyball team was hoping for.
The No. 14 Wildcats (8-4, 0-2 Pacific 10 Conference) fell to No. 16 California Friday night in a five-game heartbreaker (30-20, 22-30, 16-30, 30-22, 13-15).
The Wildcats out-blocked and out-hit the Golden Bears, but could not capitalize, losing their second straight conference game in as many days after being swept by No. 12 Stanford in Arizona's Pac-10 opener.
"There is a litany of excuses we have, and all of them are fairly legitimate," said UA head coach Dave Rubio of Arizona's inconsistent lineup and injury-ridden season. "We didn't play well enough to win that match. In the California match, I knew we were going to play better with Kim (Glass) on the floor being more comfortable. The lineup we had out there was the same lineup we had all last year.
"We didn't play sharp enough in the fifth game to win and we couldn't play well enough in end to win a close match. Silly errors determined our fate, we just weren't sharp enough," Rubio said.
Glass led the Wildcats with a season-high 21 kills, 11 digs and seven blocks in just her second match of the year after returning from a shoulder injury. Junior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy contributed 13 kills and nine digs, while sophomore opposite hitter Kristina Baum recorded 10 kills and four blocks. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus added 45 assists and seven digs, and senior libero Kelli Mulvany notched a team-high 14 digs.
"I thought Kim played one of the best matches I've seen her play ever," Rubio said of Arizona's two-time All-American. "As an individual performance, I thought it was the most complete game she's ever played."
The Wildcats return home to McKale Center to host No. 10 UCLA Friday at 7 p.m. before facing second-ranked reigning national champion Southern California Saturday at 7 p.m.
"We're only going to get better. There is the factor of our fourth lineup change in four weeks," Rubio added. "It takes time to get players comfortable playing next to people. When you're changing the lineup, there's no continuity from one week to the next."
"All the components of our success are there. As long as we stabilize our lineup, I look for us to be much stronger and more consistent (this weekend)," he said.