The No. 24 Arizona volleyball team (13-8, 5-6 Pac-10) proved it might be approaching its legendary second-half peak as the team swept No. 12 UCLA on Saturday, despite losing to No. 5 Southern California a day earlier.
The Wildcats swept the Bruins (30-28, 30-21, 30-28) Saturday at Pauley Pavilion for the second consecutive year. Arizona out-hit UCLA .291 to .197 and out-blocked the home team eight to five. The win served as Arizona's first victory against a ranked opponent since Sept. 11 when it defeated then-No. 18 Louisville at home.
"The UCLA win was a great win for us and even though we lost to USC, it was a great measuring stick for our development," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "Our players are encouraged. It was good win for us from a confidence standpoint. It was the first significant win for us in the conference. We needed to get one win like that under our belt."
Sophomore opposite hitter Meghan Cumpston led the team with 24 kills while junior outside hitter Kim Glass played the entire match, finishing with 16 kills, 14 digs, five blocks and three service aces. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus contributed 53 assists and eight digs, and senior libero Kelli Mulvany recorded a match-high 23 digs.
"There is still a lot of room for improvement on our end," Rubio added. "(In our) serve receive, we need to be a little more efficient and precise. If we can pass well, I feel like we can play with anyone. We need to continue to evolve our right side and not rely so much on the left. (We need to have better) general ball control defensively and be a little more precise in those areas. That will really put us in a position to win more rallies."
Arizona fell to No. 5 Southern California Friday in four games (20-30, 27-30, 32-30, 17-30). The Wildcats were out-hit by the Trojans .274 to .170.
"I really felt like we had our chances," Rubio said of the USC match. "We played really well. USC has improved also. We just didn't seem to execute well enough at the end to win (the second) game. We really had to battle and win game three.
"Jolene (Killough) has been the one who has really improved a lot, and we have been able to get our offense geared around her now," he continued. "We've been able to spread our offense around and not rely on the left (side) as much as we have had to in the past. We're really close to being at that level. USC is definitely a Final Four-caliber team. We're right on track."
Middle blockers Killough and junior Bre Ladd each contributed 11 kills, Killough added a team-high five blocks and Ladd earned her second double-double of the season, recording 11 digs and four blocks. Junior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy boasted nine kills while Glass and Cumpston each had eight kills apiece. Cumpston also led the team with 13 digs on the match. With 47 assists and 10 digs, Butkus collected her sixth double-double of the year. Mulvany finished the night with 12 digs.
The Wildcats return to McKale Center to take on Oregon Thursday at 7 p.m. and Oregon State Friday at 7 p.m.