By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 2, 2004
It may have been closer than the No. 17 UA volleyball team would have liked, but the Wildcats still managed to sneak away with an opening night win, sweeping host San Diego State last night.
The Wildcats took the first two games over the Aztecs by scores of 30-26 and closed out the final match with a narrow 32-30 win in the third.
"It wasn't as smooth as I would have liked it to have been," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "But I think putting a lineup together on such short notice, it was to be expected."
The Wildcats combined for 10 team blocks and 55 kills with an attack percentage of .301.
With 10 Wildcats injured in some capacity, the team was forced to rely on the experience of its veteran athletes.
"Meghan (Cumpston) played well at a new position," Rubio said. "Bre (Ladd) started off slow but came together well, and Jennifer (Abernathy) led the team in kills and attack percentage."
Abernathy, a junior outside hitter, finished with a match-high 16 kills and a hitting percentage of .538 on the night, while Ladd, a junior middle blocker, notched 13 kills and a match-high 10 digs. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus led all players with 41 assists.
In addition to the win, the game provided a good indication of the strengths and weaknesses the Wildcats will have to address before facing No. 13 Hawaii Sunday as part of the Wahine Rainbow Classic.
"We have some things that we have to work on, but it always nice to start the season with a win," Rubio said. "I didn't think we handled the ball very well in the down-ball, free-ball position. I know that is pretty technical, but those are easy balls over the net and we need to do much better next time. Our serving still needs some work. Passing was OK and our defense and blocking were good.
"Overall, it's good to get that match out of the way," he said. "I think it's always a little nerve-racking in the very first match, especially on the road and with three of our players who are playing in different positions than they would normally would play."
Tomorrow the Wildcats compete against Eastern Washington in the first game of the Wahine Rainbow Classic in Honolulu before facing San Diego and Hawaii later in the tournament.
"The competition is going to be better (in Hawaii) and we need to be a little more efficient when we get there," Rubio said.