Volleyball team earns tough win

By Ron Parsons

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The 13th-ranked Arizona women's volleyball team picked up its first conference win of the season yesterday, coming back from a two-game deficit to defeat No. 21 Washington.

Arizona (9-2) trailed Washington (6-5) by two games before taking the next three to win the Pacific 10 Conference match 9-15, 5-15, 15-12, 15-4, 15-7. The match was played in front of about 700 people at McKale Center. With the victory, Arizona salvaged its home series against the Washington schools. Friday, undefeated Washington State beat the Wildcats in straight sets.

Junior outside-hitter Barb Bell and sophomore Carrie Penfield led the Wildcats in yesterday's match. Bell had a team-high 25 kills and added 16 digs while Penfield had 19 kills.

Down two games to none and trailing 10-12 in the third game, the Wildcats rallied behind the hitting of Bell. She had seven kills in the game and led the team as much with her enthusiasm as with her hitting.

"Barb played like a senior, like an experienced veteran," Coach David Rubio said. "You need that leadership all the time."

In the first two games, Arizona had neither the leadership nor the physical play to match the Huskies, the team Rubio called "the most physically talented in the conference."

Outside hitter Dragana Djordjevic led UW with 28 kills, and Makare Desilets added 13 kills and four solo blocks. The two Huskies continuously got to the ball before Arizona could set up its blocks, and heading into the intermission between games two and three, it seemed the UA was destined to drop its third Pac-10 match in as many tries.

During the break, Wildcat players vented their frustrations and attempted to regain their confidence and composure.

"Nobody was really playing with any fire," Bell said. A couple minutes of "yelling and screaming" by players and coaches alike helped remedy that, she said.

"We had to make a decision to either roll over and die, or come back and fight," Bell said. "Right then everybody picked it up, and that's when we came back in the third game and decided to win."

Rubio called the third game an important moment in the Wildcats' season, a moment which could set the tone for the team's entire year.

"There are certain moments in every season which define what that season's going to be like. And the third game was that moment," he said. "Fortunately for us, our team stepped it up and we ended up winning that game and moving on."

In the fourth and fifth games Arizona made some blocking adjustments, effectively neutralizing Djordjevic and Desilets. And UA's Stephanie Venne (10 kills, seven block assists) attracted the attention of Washington's blockers, leaving Bell and Penfield open for more kills.

In the fifth game, the Wildcats jumped out to a 9-2 lead behind the hitting of Bell. She had five kills in the game and was vocal with teammates and opponents alike.

Winning the match "showed how much heart we have on this team, and how much fire," Bell said. "We never give up."

Said Rubio, "It would have been very tough for us to recover if we lost this match."

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