Courtesy of Arizona Athletics.
Kendra Dahlke (22) and Katarina Pilepic (15) set career-highs in kills as Arizona took down rival Arizona State in four sets in front of a raucous McKale Center crowd on Wednesday night (25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18).
The Wildcats made it nine straight against the Sun Devils in Tucson as UA improved to 9-4 (1-0 Pac-12) on the season. ASU fell to a conference-worst 7-6 (0-1 Pac-12) on the year with the loss.
Penina Snuka set a season high with 49 assists on her way to another double-double. The Pac-12’s leader in double-doubles the last three years put up a team-high-tying 14 digs to go along with her assists for her seventh double-double of the season. Dahlke also recorded a double-double with 10 digs to go with her 22 kills; it was the third double-double of the year for the sophomore.
Dahlke was terrific once again for the Wildcats as UA continues to work around the absence of all-Pac-12 performer Kalei Mau, who missed her second straight match with a back injury. Dahlke, who averaged 1.57 kills/set as a freshman, is second in the Pac-12 with 4.22 kills/set this season. Dahlke was one of three Wildcats in double-figures tonight as Pilepic (15) and Tyler Spriggs (11) helped supplement for the loss of Mau as well.
“Coming into the season, we knew that she had some issues with her back because she had them at the end of last year,” said Dahlke. “The focus was getting all of the other hitters caught up to speed with the offense. Picking those lines of attack, being able to face a double block like we faced tonight, and just preparing to make adjustments on the fly. Everyone’s been adapting well to their position and their role on the team.”
Arizona was excellent defensively against the Sun Devils, holding ASU to a .108 hitting percentage. UA had 66 digs and 12 blocks, the first time all year the Cats have paired 60+ digs with 10+ blocks. Mckenzie Jacobson and Pilepic had five blocks apiece to lead the way.
Laura Larson registered 14 digs in her final match against ASU in McKale Center.
“Tonight’s game was great,” said Larson. “The crowd was so loud. These games are always high energy and it’s always great to play them because they’re good. This is just a window into the conference; every night’s going to be a battle. It’ll be exciting.”
After splitting the first two sets, the Cats responded out of the intermission, winning the third and fourth sets comfortably to dispatch of the Sun Devils. Nine of Arizona’s 12 blocks occurred in the third and fourth sets.
“I’m proud of how we handled the situation after game two,” said head coach Dave Rubio, who is now 18-7 against ASU all-time in McKale Center. “We came out and played well in game three. But they put a lot of pressure on us in game two. I was proud of how we responded in game three, and game four was a little bit easier for us, but it was very hard fought.”
Arizona was sharp on both sides of the ball in the first, registering 17 kills on .297 hitting while holding ASU to a .135 hitting percentage. Kendra Dahlke notched seven kills to lead Arizona and the Cats edged the Sun Devils, 25-22 in the opener.
The Wildcats were unable to solve the ASU block in the second set, as the Sun Devils blocked seven Wildcat attacks, holding UA to -.029 hitting in the frame. ASU evened the match with a 25-19 victory.
In the third, it was Arizona which dominated at the net, posting five blocks, including three by Devyn Cross. Offensively, Katarina Pilepic led the way, posting seven kills in the set as UA took a 2-1 lead with a 25-23 victory.
Arizona dominated the fourth set to close out the match.
Courtesy of Arizona Athletics.