Arizona Bowl

Cats go out with a roar in a tough five set loss to ASU

(Tucson, AZ)  Senior Day at McKale Center for the Wildcat Volleyball Team.

Julia Patterson, Devyn Cross, Makenna Martin, EMI Pua’a and Shardonee Hayes were honored in a pregame ceremony.

Coming into the match, the banged up Wildcats wanted a win over cross state rival to go out on a winning note.

The Sun Devils won in three sets on September 26th in Tempe (25-20, 2t-16, 25-19).

The Sun Devils came out strong and put Arizona on its heels to begin the match.

With the score 17-9, Paige Whipple smashed three consecutive kills to keep the Cats within striking distance to 17-12.

ASU and the Wildcats went back and forth but the lead still stayed in favor of the Devils.

The Cats staved off set point with a kill from Katie Smoot, but ASU got the next point to win the first set 25-18.

Martin started off Set 2 with a nice kill to get Zona off on the right foot. The Cats jumped out to a 3-0 lead before ASU scored.

Arizona’s hitting percentage greatly improved and a 9-4 lead before the Devils stopped the run.

Whipple scored two consecutive kills forcing an ASU timeout. Cats were up 12-7.

Out of the timeout, a Cross blocked shot added to the Wildcats lead. Smoot added a kill and a dink and put Arizona up 16-8.

This set was all Arizona as the defensive adjustments made by Coach Dave Rubio and some key digs had the Cats run away 25-11 to even the match at 1-1.

The third set started out even with sloppy play from both teams. ASU had the edge early at 8-4 and forced a Wildcat timeout.

Zona’s Smoot came back with three quick points and drew the Cats within one point 8-7.

Smoot came down awkwardly on her ankle and went to the bench. The Devils took advantage of the injury and went up 15-11.

Smoot came back into the game and smashed a kill to bring the Cats  back to a 18-13 deficit.

ASU’s lead grew to 20-13 but the Cats didn’t give up and scored five consecutive points to get close at 21-18.

Neither team backed down as this rivalry game heated up and the 24-23 score showed. ASU called a timeout after failing on two set point attempts.

Whipple tied to the score at 24-24 with another kill, but a double error by Arizona let the set slip away. ASU was up two sets to one.

Fourth set started with a Smoot/Whipple attack and a quick 5-1 lead that grew to 9-2 and a Sun Devil timeout.

Paterson’s ace increased the Zona lead to 12-4. ASU came back with two quick points to force a Wildcat timeout, 12-6.

The Sun Devils kept pecking away little by little to hang around 13-9. Rubio challenged a back line call that was ruled out and the call was reversed in favor of the Cats. Cats were now up 17-9.

Cats on point down the stretch  with a 20-11 and an ASU challenge that stayed in favor of Arizona.

Devils tried to keep the game going got a point to keep their slim hopes alive 24-20.

The second set point for the Cats Whipple shut down ASU in the fourth set to even the match 2-2 sets and forced a winner take all fifth and final set.

Zona took at slim 4-2 early lead off a Cross “roof,” but the Sun Devils came back to tie the set 4-4.

Each team traded points and at the midway break, the Cats maintained a 8-7 lead.

With seniors on both squads not wanting to finish their careers, the tension was mounting on each side.

Whipple kept the Wildcats alive with a kill and a roof to bring the score to 11-10 Devils and an ASU timeout.

Two consecutive points by Whipple and Cross gave Zona the lead 12-11.


With the Devils tying it back up at 13-13, it was who wanted it more.

Whipple scored to set up a match point and the subsequent game winner was reversed on an ASU challenge. 14-14.

ASU had their upcoming match point challenged by Rubio which  was  upheld.

Smoot brought the Cats back even 15-15 but then  the Cats made an unforced error by serving out of bounds.

Thats all the Devils needed as they scored the next point to win the O match 3-2.

So what began as a season full of promise, this team went through more than their share of injuries to the starting lineup. These Cats finished strong and with a lot of grit and determination but with a heartbreaking loss.

Coach Rubio reiterated how much of a pleasure it was to coach this group of seniors and see them grow as athletes and students.

The sky is the limit next year as a new group of recruits come in with a lot of talent, but team chemistry and cohesiveness will also need to be key factors to make this team as special as the 2019 group.









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