A young team got even younger on Sunday as the Arizona Wildcats volleyball team faced the Oregon Ducks without senior leader Paige Whipple. Despite being without their second-leading scorer, the Wildcats came out looking like they were ready to compete against a talented Ducks team. Was there a chance that the young volleyball team was on its way to an upset victory?
It seemed that way until the second set happened.
After a close first, the Ducks easily took sets two and three for the sweep (25-23, 25-13, 25-15). The loss dropped the Wildcats to 2-6 on the season. Oregon is 6-2.
The absence of their senior leader gave two Arizona freshmen the chance to demonstrate what fans can look forward to in the future. Jaelyn Hodge had nine kills on just 20 attacks. She made only two attack errors for a hitting percentage of .350. She also had four digs.
The Wildcats were led by Sofia Maldonado Diaz, who scored 14 points on the day. She did it by way of 11 kills, two aces and two blocks. She also had two digs.
Hot start for Sofia!
Three early kills on six error-free swings for the freshman!
— Arizona Volleyball (@ArizonaVBall) February 14, 2021
The Wildcats came out hitting .325 in the first set. They had 17 kills on 40 attempts and only four errors, and it looked like they might jump out to 1-0 lead. Oregon was just too tough, edging them out 25-23.
The Ducks kicked it into a higher gear in the next set. The Wildcats weren’t able to keep up.
They would let Oregon take the 2-0 lead by only managing seven kills on 35 swings. The Wildcats had as many attack errors as kills. The final score of 25-13 was generous, as Arizona saved two set points before the Ducks took the victory.
The Wildcats tried to fight back in set three, but the Ducks were just too much. Arizona stayed within two points until 8-10. That’s when Oregon put its foot down, closing out the match on a 15-7 run.
After their hot start, Arizona would end the match hitting .121. The Wildcats were .000 in set two and -.042 in set three.
The nature of Whipple’s absence is currently unknown, but we are awaiting an update from the program.