Information provided by Arizona’s media-relations department contributed to this report
Arizona defeated ninth-seeded Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday night at the Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich.
Arizona and Michigan State battled for five sets, with the Wildcats prevailing in the decisive fifth set (17-25, 25-16, 25-19, 24-26, 15-10).
The Wildcats advance to the Sweet 16, which will take place in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday. They will face Pac-12 rival Washington, the No. 8 seed. It is Arizona’s eighth Sweet 16 in program history and first since 2005.
“I was really proud of the way we played,” Arizona coach Dave Rubio said. “It was an unbelievable match. Both sides were terrific. Michigan State gave us everything we could handle. In the first set, we were getting annihilated, and for us to be able to recover from that was tough for us.”
Arizona hit .311 on 151 attempts. Michigan State posted a .252 hitting percentage. Kalei Mau (23 kills, .321 hitting) and Kendra Dahlke (22 kills, .314 hitting) led the Wildcats.
The Wildcats outblocked the Spartans 12.0-7.5. Devyn Cross had six blocks while Katarina Pilepic and McKenzie Jacobson had four apiece.
Penina Snuka (57 assists, 15 digs), Dahlke (22 kills, 16 digs) and Mau (23 kills, 10 digs) all posted double-doubles for the Wildcats.
For Snuka, it was her 22nd of the season, tying Adora Anae of Utah for the Pac-12-lead. Because the Utes were eliminated from the tournament, it is likely Snuka, the Pac-12 Setter of the Year, will lead – or tie for the lead – in double-doubles all four years in the conference.
Michigan State went on an 8-1 run to turn a one point lead into an eight-point lead as the Spartans hit a blistering .429 on their way to a 25-17 first-set victory.
After four years in the tournament, the seniors are in the Sweet 16. Hear what Laura Larson had to say about the accomplishment: pic.twitter.com/GgxAal3ZTr
The Wildcats responded in the second set hitting .538, led by seven kills on 10 errorless Dahlke swings, as UA evened the match with a 25-16 victory.
Arizona dominating at the net in the third set on its way to a 25-19 victory. The Wildcats had five blocks, including four by Cross, as the Cats led the majority of the way in a 25-19 victory.
In the fourth set, the teams went back-and-forth, with neither team leading by more than three points. Arizona could not convert a set point at 24-23 and Michigan State scored the final three points to win 26-24.
Arizona opened the fifth set by scoring six of the first seven points. The Wildcats withstood a Michigan State run the brought the Spartans to within two. Arizona won the fifth, 15-10.