By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
This weekend was a typical case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Arizona women's volleyball team.
The team that was swept by No. 1 Stanford (14-0 overall, 8-0 in the Pacific 10 Conference) Friday night was uptight and worried, but the Wildcats that returned the favor to Cal on Saturday were just having fun.
"The key to our success is coming out and playing relaxed and to our own capabilities," UA coach David Rubio said. "There is an ingredient that we need to add, and be consistent with it. That is just the ability to go out and play, and not really put too much pressure on ourselves."
That is not what Arizona (9-5, 5-4) did on Friday. The Wildcats did, however, come out focused and ready for the flawless Stanford team. The first game was neck-and-neck and involved five lead changes. The UA jumped out to a 7-3 lead, but allowed Stanford to creep back with three staight points. From then on Stanford seemed to take control and avoid three or four Wildcat comebacks, including a last run from 12-14 to 14-14. But in the end, it was Stanford 16, Arizona 14.
The next two games were all Stanford. The knockout blow was the Cardinal's 17-0 run between game two and three, a run that gave them a 15-8 win in game two and a 10-0 lead in game three. Although the Wildcats did manage a few rallies, Stanford prevailed 15-4.
Freshman Kristin Folkl led the Cardinal with 17 kills and a .343 hitting percentage in what head coach Don Shaw called "an off night." The leaders for the Wildcats were senior Rita Johnson, who had 13 kills and hit .240, and sophomore Barb Bell, who added 12 kills and 11 digs.
"We kind of shutdown ourselves," Bell said. "I think that was because we knew we could have beaten them. And it was kind of upsetting that we lost the first game because we put everything into it."
On Saturday night the Wildcats erased their Hyde image by making quick work of Cal (3-13, 1-8), winning 15-6, 15-3, 15-8. Arizona dominated the young Cal team, limiting them to 21 total kills and a .072 hitting percentage. But this game involved some experimenting with a few areas, including giving freshman Michaela Ebben the nod for starting setter. Ebben responded by recording 30 assists and only one ball handling error in three games.
"I was a little nervous, had some butterflies, but the team really helped me out," Ebben said of her first Arizona start.
In addition to Ebben, the Wildcats had five players hit over .300, ending the night hitting .461 for the game. Bell had a match high 19 kills and .607 hitting percentage.
"The weekend was positive," Rubio said. "We did what we needed to do. We had a good game against Cal and got the split that we needed after Friday's loss."
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