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Snuka Makes History for Wildcats on an Emotional "Senior Night" - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Snuka Makes History for Wildcats on an Emotional "Senior Night" with Cats Beating #17 Utah

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It was an emotional night for five Arizona seniors as they ended their home career at McKale Center with a big victory over 17th ranked Utah.  Panina Snuka, the "face" of the Arizona Wildcats over the last four years was very emotional as she walked on the court during intros with her family.   Snuke held back tears during the touching, emotional moment.  

To see the story (and highlights) as-aired-on-NBC .. please click on icon above.

Here's a report from Arizona Athletics on the historic day for Snuka and the Cats:

-- Penina Snuka became the second player in school history to accumulate 5,000 career assists on Wednesday, doing so on her senior day at McKale Center as Arizona took down No. 17 Utah in four sets (22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15).

Snuka, Kalei Mau, Laura Larson, Katarina Pilepic and McKenna Painton bid adieu to McKale Center and the Arizona fans on a special afternoon. With the win, the 80th over the last four years, the seniors became the winningest class since 2003. 

In addition to Snuka reaching the career milestone, it was a special night for all the seniors as Mau posted 21 kills, her third most in a four-set match this year, on .362 hitting with a career-high-tying three aces, Larson totaled 21 digs, her second most in a four-set match, Pilepic notched nine kills on .333 hitting and Painton recorded 10 digs, her seventh double-digit-dig effort this season.

"I can't even find the words to say how much these seniors have meant to this program," said head coach Dave Rubio. "This is a very special group. It's very fitting that their careers will end by leading us to our fourth NCAA Tournament in their four years."

The Wildcats rebounded after a slow start to earn their seventh victory over a ranked team this year. After allowing Utah to hit .381 in its 25-22 first-set win, the Wildcats held the Utes to a .106 clip afterward. Meanwhile, Arizona hit a blistering .347 in the final three sets, three dominant wins (25-18, 25-16, 25-15).

"I was proud of the way we played today," said Rubio. "We came out a little flat in the first set, but we executed well in the last three sets. That was a big win for us against a good team. We had some energy that I felt we had been lacking the last couple of matches."

Snuka added to her Pac-12 lead in total assists with 52 in the match. The senior spread the ball around on Wednesday as four Wildcats posted nine-or-more kills in the match. Mau led the way with 21, Kendra Dahlke added 13, Devyn Cross posted a career-high 10 and Pilepic had nine kills.

In addition to its high-powered offense, UA also played great defense, beginning in the backrow. Arizona out-dug Utah 67-58 in the match, led by Larson's 21. Mau added 12 for her 13th double-double of the year and Painton dug 10 balls. Arizona also out-blocked Utah 6-3. Cross was in on five of the blocks for the Cats.

The Utes hit .383 in the first set and fought off an Arizona run at the end to win 25-22 and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

Arizona, though, carried the momentum from its strong finish to the first set and raced out to the early lead in the second set. The Cats led wire to wire in the second, taking the second set 25-18. Kendra Dahlke led the Cats with six kills on 13 swings.

It was more of the same in the third, as Arizona cruised from the get-go, winning 25-16.

The Wildcats scored the first five points in the fourth set and dominated from there, winning 25-15 to close out the match.

UP NEXT: Arizona is set to close out the regular season in Tempe on Saturday as the Cats will meet the Sun Devils at 3 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

FOLLOW THE CATS: For continued coverage of Arizona volleyball, follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@ArizonaVBall).

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