(Tucson, AZ) The UCLA Bruins came to Tucson ranked #23 with a 16-11 which may not seem impressive, but playing in the PAC-12 conference is generally brutal on a teams overall record.
In the first set both teams played even until the middle of the set, when the Bruin put tougher a string of ponte to take a 16-11 lead.
Paige Whipple and Zyonna Fellows kept Arizona within striking distance, but the power and passing of the Bruins was tough to overcome.
The Cats clawed back but ultimately fell 25-20 and a 1-0 set lead for UCLA.
The second set Arizona and UCLA were tied 6-6 and 7-7. Neither team could get on top for more than a single point.
The consistent play of both teams continued as the Zona took a slight 12-11 lead at the midway point.
Whipple crushed a kill off the right side to put the Cat’s lead att 15-13. Arizona’s passing and hitting was much more consistent in the second set.
UCLA was forced to call a timeout training 18-15 and the Wildcats seemingly with the more consistent play.
Out of the timeout, the Bruins got the first point, but Whipple again with the “dink’ put Arizona back up by two 18-16.
Back came the Bruins with consecutive points to knot it up at 19-19. Once again, Whipple to the rescue to stop the run and tie it back up at 20-20.
Fellows with a fantastic solo block and a long kill attempt by UCLA gave the Cats a 23-21 lead.
Both teams wanted this second set badly, UCLA to go up 2-0 and the Wildcats to draw even and gain the confidence they needed.
This has been a very trying year for Dave Rubio and the team with a string of injuries, some lasting a month or more. He’shad to piecemeal different lineups through the year.
The Bruins showed why they’re ranked and with a “never give up” attitude, they stormed back with a 4-1 run to lead and force a set point at 25-24.
Whipple once again scored and drew the Cats even, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as UCLA won 27-25 to win the set and a 2-0 lead in the match.
As in the previous two sets, both teams played even until the Bruins went up 17-15.
UCLA continued pressure on the Wildcats continued to mount. The. Cats still made it interesting trailing 23-22 and forced a Bruin timeout.
A jump ball at the net fell in favor of the Bruins to win match 3-0.
Arizona played well in each game and made UCLA earn the victory, but with a depleted roster it wasn’t enogh.
Whipple was the bright spot with 21 kills and Julia Patterson added 31 assists running the offense.
In a year that had so much promise, the sixteen game stretch without the normal starting lineup has taken its toll on this team, nevertheless Rubio said it’s been one of the most satisfying teams he’s ever coached.
Senior Night and the final game against arch-rival Arizona State in Saturday at noon.