The unranked Arizona Wildcats handed the second- ranked UCLA Bruins their first home court defeat of the season with a 3-0 sweep. The set scores were relatively close 25-23, 25-23, 25-20 but the Wildcats appeared to have the competitive edge from the beginning. Although the level of play was close, Arizona seemed to be attacking, serving and committing fewer errors than UCLA. Statistics supported this perception. In the third set alone UCLA’s attack errors equaled Arizona’s total for the entire match. The Bruins also totaled more kills (46-41) and committed less service errors (3-7) than the Wildcats. Match leader in kills, UCLA’s Rachel Kidder (15 kills) also tied teammate Tabi Love (7 kills) and the Wildcats’ Madison Kingdon (8 kills) for match lead in attack errors with 6. Sharing the Wildcats kill lead with 11 each were Curtsy Jackson and Courtney Karst. Jackson committed 4 attack errors while Karst was error-free.
There were differences in the sets. The first set, as close as it was, belonged to the Wildcats from beginning to end. The second set featured ten ties and three lead changes. UCLA took the early lead. There were thirteen ties and four lead changes but Arizona achieved a five-point separation at 21-16 and never looked back as they completed the sweep.
Arizona improved their record to 18-10, 10-9 in the PAC-12 Conference. The loss dropped UCLA to 23-5, 16-4 in conference play. Arizona also swept UCLA in conference play by virtue of a five set victory over the Bruins in October.
While the victories over UCLA may inspiring to the Wildcats, it will not translate to post-season play. Even though the Bruins lost two of their last three games, they are certain to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Losses for a top-10 team at this point in the season may affect rankings, seeding and confidence but only in the tournament is a loss season-ending. For the Bruins, or any other team, late-season losses may greatly affect confidence - particularly if defeated by a less successful team.
Photographs related to this match are available for viewing at whatitlooklike.shutterfly.com.
photos Janos Schmidt