A historic weekend for UA women’s volleyball, basketball

The 10th-ranked University of Arizona women’s basketball team is coming off a sweep of No. 11 Oregon, something that hasn’t happened in the last 10 years.  What could be sweeter?

Well, the women’s volleyball players might have an answer to that question.  They just swept Stanford for the first time in 16 years… and the Cardinal, the defending national champion, was the No. 7-ranked team in the nation at the time.

Since Arizona is unranked, that was such a huge upset that it dropped Stanford to No. 15.

The volleyball team pulled off its feat in a three-day span, beating Stanford 3-0 on Friday and then coming back Sunday for a 3-1 victory.  The basketball team used a 57-41 win on Jan. 14 for the front end of the sweep, and then steamrolled the Ducks, 79-59, on Monday to cap the sweep.

Arizona dominated Oregon in both basketball games.  The Cats took a 36-22 lead at the half in the first contest and then rolled to the 16-point victory, but had a little trouble shaking the Ducks in Monday’s back end, up just a point at the half before outscoring Oregon 27-14 in the third quarter and then building to the final 20-point margin.

Aari McDonald led the Wildcat scoring in the first game with 16 points and Cat Reese poured in 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the second.  McDonald, who scored 16 points in Monday’s game, has now scored in double figures in 80 straight games, the longest active streak in the NCAA.

The volleyball team was just as dominant in its home sweep of Stanford, winning in sets of 25-17, 25-16, 25-14.

Sofia Maldonado Diaz, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, led the attack through both games of the sweep, posting 11 kills in the Friday match and coming back on Sunday to lead the team again, this time with 15 kills.

Sophomore libero Kamaile Hiapo, who had 11 digs in the first game, put up a season-high 17 digs on Sunday.  And she was just one of three Wildcats with double-digit digs.

For her efforts in the sweep, Haipo was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.

The volleyball wins were particularly significant since Arizona has now won just 10 times in the 80 matches the two teams have played. The Cats also became the first team to defeat Stanford in straight sets while holding the Cardinal to fewer than 20 points in all three sets, dating back to when rally scoring was introduced to NCAA volleyball in 2001.

It will be interesting to see if this newfound confidence for both teams carries over to tonight’s contests.  Basketball hosts Washington State tonight at McKale Center and volleyball travels to Eugene for Friday and Sunday matches against Oregon.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)