TUCSON, AZ – The Arizona Wildcats fought off three match points and scored the final five points of the 5th set to come from 14-11 down to beat UC Santa Barbara 16-14 and win the match 3-2 (25-13, 25-27, 15-25, 25-18, 16-14), Saturday night inside the McKale Center.
Staring at match point, he Wildcats would not go away as a Kingdon kill and a block by Amaro pulled Arizona to within one, forcing the Gauchos to call a timeout.
After the break, Kingdon put down another kill to even the score at 14-14. Then, the Wildcats got back-to-back blocks from Amaro to complete the comeback, 16-14. Arizona had three blocks in the set with all of them coming down the stretch. Kingdon had six kills and seven digs to pace the Cats in the set.
Arizona took home the tournament title at the Wildcat Classic by finishing a perfect 3-0 in the event. The Wildcats improved their record to 10-2 on the season, while UC Santa Barbara dropped to 5-7 on the year.
Junior Madi Kingdon was named tournament MVP after finishing with match-highs of 22 kills and 21 digs to go along with six blocks for her sixth double-double of the season.
Senior libero Candace Nicholson broke the school record for career digs. Nicholson needed just one dig to break Terry Lauchner's all-time record for career digs at Arizona. Lauchner had 1,297 digs from 1987-90 and Nicholson's 16 digs on the night give her 1,313 now for her career.
Nicholson and Halli Amaro were also named to the all-tournament team. Amaro was incredible defensively for the night as she finished with 13 blocks to go along with eight kills. The 13 blocks tie for the second most in school history and they were the most since Dominique Lamb also recorded 13 back on Oct. 26, 2007 against Oregon State.
Meanwhile, Penina Snuka also had a double-double as she dished out a match-high 46 assists to go with 13 digs, four kills and two blocks. The Wildcats had five players record double-figure digs led by Kingdon, Nicholson and Snuka. Ronni Lewis and Laura Larson had 11 digs apiece as well.
Katey Thompson led UCSB with 15 kills, while Ali Spindt had 13 and Leah Sully added 11. Ali Santi led the Gauchos with 18 digs.
The Wildcats will open up Pac-12 play on Tuesday at in-state rival Arizona State. The match is set to being at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.
Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team
Arizona - Madi Kingdon (MVP), Candace Nicholson and Halli Amaro.
UC Santa Barbara - Leah Sully and Katey Thompson.
Loyola Maryland - Simone Reid and Faye Lukas.
Wofford - Elizabeth Buterbaugh.