Cindy Fredrick gave credit to her team’s great effort.
That’s not to say the Washington State volleyball coach didn’t notice that one of Arizona’s top players, Erin Aldrich, spent most of Saturday night on the end of the Wildcats’ bench icing her injured left ankle.
“I’ll take a win anytime I can get a win,” said Fredrick, whose No. 10 Cougars came from behind to beat No. 13 Arizona 9-15, 15-12, 15-11, 15-6 before 905 spectators at Bohler Gym. “There’s no doubt, it probably would have been a little different with Erin in there.”
Aldrich, second on her team with a 2.6 kills-per-game average, landed on a teammate’s foot and rolled her left ankle in the second game with the Cougars leading 4-2. The sophomore middle hitter - who’s also an All-American high jumper - never returned.
“It makes us all sad,” said Fredrick, whose team improved to 21-4 and is tied for third at 9-4 in the Pacific-10 Conference. “I’d always rather beat somebody at full strength, but I’ll take the win no matter what.”
Washington State also played short-handed. Starting outside hitter Wendy Rouse dislocated her right thumb in Tuesday’s practice and is scheduled to be re-examined this Tuesday. The absence of Rouse gave Kim Kleven, a defensive specialist from Spokane, the first start of her career. The University High graduate rotated with front-row player Colleen Smith.
For the second straight night, Washington State’s most dominant player was Elis Arias. The 5-foot-9 outside hitter finished with career highs of 19 kills (.277 hitting) and 17 digs. Arias, who hit -.125 in the first game, helped nail the second game with eight kills. She gave the Cougars a 13-8 lead on one of her kills. However, it took nine game points, and three sideouts by Arias, before the Cougars leveled the match at 1-1.
After jumping to a 11-3 lead in the third game, the Cougars again had trouble closing. The Cats got as close as 14-11, but on the fourth game point, Smith connected on one of her eight kills. The 6-foot-6 freshman finished with a .500 attack percentage as the team hit .235 on the night to Arizona’s .189.
The win over Arizona (16-4, 8-4) came just one night after the Cougars caught their first break of the weekend. Arizona State arrived in Pullman Friday without its top player, Terri Cox. The word from the Sun Devils was that Cox didn’t make the trip because of “personal reasons.” The Cougars romped in three.
Saturday, they struggled in four before putting together an easy final game.
“Tonight there were a little more nerves. Players were hurrying,” Fredrick said. “They finally got themselves calmed down a little bit.”
The Cougars didn’t allow the Wildcats many chances in the final game, jumping ahead 10-4. Stephanie Papke and Jennifer Stinson teamed for the most exciting points when they blocked Carolyn Penfield on consecutive points. Penfield - who leads the Cats with 3.75 kills per game - finished with a team-high 18 kills.