The No. 23 Arizona volleyball team did not give instate rival Arizona State much to brag about as the Wildcats swept the Sun Devils (30-17, 30-25, 30-24) on Friday at McKale Center
Arizona (12-7, 4-5 Pac-10) bettered Arizona State in hitting percentage (.383 to .210) and blocks (6 to 5.5).
Sophomore opposite hitter Meghan Cumpston led the team with 17 kills on .483 hitting and nine digs while junior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy contributed 12 kills and six digs to the win. Senior middle blocker Jolene Killough worked out of her slump as she notched nine kills on a career-high .900 hitting and a team-high four blocks. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus added 46 assists and senior libero Kelli Mulvany recorded a team-high 11 digs.
"I'm pleased that our attacking percentage is as good and as high as it is," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "In volleyball, the attack percentage is kind of like baseball percentages. So if a batter is hitting .300, that's terrific, and for us, we want our kids hitting .250-plus. Our hitters are more conscientious of the attack plan that they're taking and the choices they're making. But we still need to get better."
"We know that we have a tremendous amount of room to approve," he added. "The improvement is going to happen through the course of time. It's not going to be a quick fix for us. We're just going to have to find ways to win. Whether it's competing and just being better competitors (or) whether it's being more physical than teams and more efficient than teams."
Arizona earned its victory largely without the help of junior outside hitter Kim Glass, who saw limited playing time and did not appear on the court until the third game.
"I think that players, regardless of who it is, are required to come in and practice hard every day," Rubio said of Glass' absence. "That's about all I want to say about that."
Mulvany said the Wildcats do not take the Arizona State team lightly, and they anticipated a hard-fought game.
"Every game we play, we have to respect the team because you never know how they are going to come out," said Mulvany, who recorded double-digit digs for the 12th time this season. "ASU is always playing their best game against us, it never fails. So we had to come out prepared, and we've had some very good weeks of practice. We were just prepared for everything."
In the third game, Arizona jumped out to an early six-point lead but saw it soon evaporate to a two-point game at 9-7. The Wildcats tried to distance themselves from the Sun Devils at 24-16, but Arizona State came back with six consecutive points to hold the Arizona lead to two points. The Wildcats were able to run away with the victory at the end, outscoring ASU 6-2.
The Sun Devils had an early three-point lead in the second game before Cumpston notched four consecutive points to give Arizona the edge at 5-4. The game was knotted at 13 before Arizona outscored ASU 8-3, forcing the Sun Devils to take their final timeout. Arizona State came within three points of the Wildcats a couple times before Arizona was able to close out the win 30-25. Arizona out-hit its rival .412 to .265 on the match but was out-blocked 4-0.
The first game was back and forth initially before Arizona dominated, leading by as many as 14 points. The Wildcats finished the game 30-17, while hitting .500 and out-blocking Arizona State 3-0.
The Wildcats travel to Southern California next weekend to face No. 6 USC on Friday at 7 p.m. and No. 12 UCLA Saturday at 7 p.m. Arizona will be looking to retaliate as both teams defeated the Wildcats at home earlier this season.