Arizona heads to LA

Nov. 11, 2008

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This Week: The Arizona volleyball team (14-10 4-8 Pac-10) heads to Los Angeles this weekend to take on No. 10 USC and No. 9 UCLA. The Wildcats face the Women of Troy (14-8, 7-6) Friday at 8:00 p.m. at the Galen Center  and take on the Bruins (16-8, 6-7) Saturday at the same time in Pauley Pavilion.

Scouting the Opposition:

USC- The No. 10 Women of Troy  sit in fifth place in the Pac-10 and are coming off a split with the Washington school. USC swept Washington State, but was swept by Washington. USC is in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories and are led by a pair of juniors, Taylor Carico, who is fifth in the league in assists averaging 10.33 a set and Alli Hillgren, who is sixth in digs with 4.21 a set.

UCLA- The No. 9 Bruins are right behind USC and ahead of Arizona in sixth in the conference. UCLA is also coming off a sweep at the Washington schools, with a win over the Cougars and loss to the Huskies.  As a team, UCLA leads the Pac-10 in digs, averaging 15.39 a match. The Bruins are led by freshman Amanda Gil, who is second in the league with 1.41 blocks a contest and senior Jessica Fine, who is third in digs with 4.64 a set.

Series History:

USC – USC trails only Stanford in number of wins against the Wildcats with a 48-16 record. The teams have played 64 times stretching back to 1977 with the Women of Troy winning four of the last five, but Arizona won the first meeting this season 3-2.

UCLA – UCLA had the third most wins over the Wildcats in school history with a 47-18 record. The teams have played a total of 66 times, dating back to 1977 with the Bruins winning four of the last five matches, but the last Arizona win came to end the 2007 season over the then No. 10 Bruins.

Last Head-to-Head:

USC - October 19, 2008 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. – The Wildcats earned their first win over a ranked opponent in 2008, when they beat the then No. 11 Women of Troy, 3-2. Arizona beat USC  21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-16 and 16-14 in a back-and-fourth match.  Arizona sophomore Whitney Dosty played what head coach Dave Rubio called her best match of the her Wildcat career. She recorded a season-high 20 kills. Sophomore Tiffany Owens gathered 18 kills and classmate Paige Weber had a season-high 61 assists.

UCLA- October 17, 2008 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. – As part of Arizona’s Dig for a Cure match, the Wildcats fell to the visiting Bruins 3-1. Sophomore Tiffany Owens gathered a season-high 23 kills but the Wildcats lost 25-15, 20-25, 25-21 and 25-22. The Bruins came out and jumped on Arizona, leading the first set 11-1 and the Wildcats could never overcome that.

Last Weekend:

Stanford @ Arizona: The Wildcats had no answer for No. 2 Stanford as the Cardinal got by Arizona 25-23, 25-19, and 25-16. Reigning national player of the year Foluke Akinradewo recorded 16 kills with a .652 hitting percentage in the win. Arizona’s Randy Goodenough led Arizona with 13 kills.

California @ Arizona: Arizona got its second win over a top-25 team with a 3-2 victory over No. 6 California. Tiffany Owens paced the Wildcats with 17 kills and a career-high 19 digs for her seventh double-double of the season. Whitney Dosty added 15 kills in the 25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11 win. It was Arizona’s first win over a top-10 team since the final game of 2007 over No. 10 UCLA and the highest ranked opponent the Wildcats had beaten since a 2005 victory over then No. 4 Stanford.

More Double-Doubles – In the Wildcats’ 3-2 win over No. 6 Cal, Arizona had two players record a double-double. Sophomore Tiffany Owens collected a career-high 19 digs to go along with 17 kills in the win. It was her seventh double-double of 2008. Classmate Paige Weber picked up her second double-double of the season with 45 assists and 10 digs. This was just the second time in 2008 the team has had more than one player record a double-double in a contest, the first was at Colorado State where the Wildcats had three (Owens, Weber, and Buringrud).

Resch Hour – Junior libero Alanna Resch recorded a combined 24 digs in the two weekend matches against the Bay Area schools. That puts her per-set average at 4.06 for the season and would put her at the top of the single season digs per set list. Senior Brittany Leonard currently holds the record with 3.84 per set in 2006. Resch is also 90 sets behind Leonard in the most sets in a season category. Resch is at 321 compared to Leonard’s 2006 total of 411. Resch will have to average more than 15 digs per match through the team’s final six matches to top Leonard.

Don’t Get Upset – Arizona pulled off it’s second upset of the season with a 3-2 win over then No. 6 Cal. It was the Wildcats second upset of the season over a ranked opponent, the first coming on Oct. 19th with a 3-2 win over then No. 11 USC. Arizona is now 2-8 against ranked opponents.

Bucking the Trend – Heading into last weekend’s match with Cal, the Wildcats had yet to win a contest in which they trailed their opponent in kills, hitting percentage, or digs. The Golden Bears topped Arizona in all three categories, yet Arizona still prevailed.  They are now 1-10 when trailing in kills, 1-9 when trailing in digs and 1-10 while trailing in hitting percentage.

The Real T.O. –Sophomore Tiffany Owens has been one of the most consistent player so far for Arizona. The outside hitter is averaging 2.97 kills per set and 2.65 digs per set, good enough for second on the team in both. Owens holds the team high in kills in a match at 23 and has led the squad in kills in five of the last 10 matches.

Cover Paige –The sophomore setter leads the team in assists with 864 in 24 matches and recorded a season-high 61 assists in the team’s win over USC. That mark was just two assists below her career-high of 63 set last season as a freshman against St. Mary’s. Weber is seventh in the Pac 10 in assists per set at 10.29. She is also fourth in the league in aces per serve at 0.30. Weber has won two tournament MVP awards this season, one in the opening Wildcat Classic and one in the CSU Bakersfield Invitational.

Part of being in the Pac – Arizona is in the middle of a stretch of playing 13 top-25 teams in 15 matches. With the strength of the Pac-10, it seems that every weekend, the Wildcats are playing top-flight teams and this weekend is no exception with No. 10 USC and No. 9 UCLA.

Block party – The 2008 Wildcats have been a team known for their blocks. Arizona fell to second in the Pac-10 in blocks-per-set with 2.62 and is 16th in the nation. Arizona recorded a season-high 15 blocks in their 3-0 win over ASU. Sophomore Stephanie Snow is eighth in the league in blocks with 1.05 per set. Snow picked up a career-high 10 blocks in the 3-0 win over ASU.

Digging towards the top – Senior Brittany Leonard recorded her 1,000 career dig in the team’s 3-2 win over UC Riverside. The libero continues her climb up the career digs list. The Menlo Park, Calif. resident is ninth on the career list. Leonard is still 259 digs from the career leader Terry Lauchner who has 1,297, while Leonard sits at 1,038.

Arizona’s place – The Wildcats sit in second in the conference in blocks (2.62 per set), second in services aces (1.29 per set) and fourth in opponents hitting percentage (.184). Nationally, the team is 16th in blocks per set .

Cats in the poll – As fast as Arizona showed up in the AVCA Top-25, they fell out. After being ranked for the first time since Sept. 11, 2006, the Wildcats dropped out after their 3-1 loss at No. 12 Colorado State. Arizona is the 32nd team on the top-25 list, getting 12 points in the poll.

Pac-10 in the Top-25 –The Pac-10 has six teams in the top-10. Stanford sits at the top at number two, Washington is five, Cal is seventh, Oregon eighth, UCLA ninth, USC 10th .

2008 award winners - Throughout the season, a handful of Wildcats have been awarded tournament honors. Three players were named to the CSUB All-Tournament Team. Paige Weber brought home tournament MVP, while Jacy Norton and Whitney Dosty were named to the all-tournament team. Two Wildcats were named to the Arizona Invitational All-Tournament Team, Stephanie Snow and Tiffany Owens. The week before Paige Weber was named Wildcat Classic MVP, Alanna Resch was named Wildcat Classic Most Outstanding Libero and Tiffany was named to the Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team, her first or two awards in as many weeks.

13-set win streak - Arizona started the season winning the first 13 sets it played in before losing its first set and match to Santa Clara on 9/5/08. The last time the Wildcats began the season on a similar streak was 2005 when they won their first 12 sets. 2005 was also the last time Arizona was in the postseason. Arizona record for starting the season with the most consecutive set wins was 2001 when they won their first 17 sets  before dropping a set to Oregon to open Pac-10 play.

Pac-10 Preseason Poll: Arizona was selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conference’s head coaches.  The Wildcats garnered 39 points in the vote, as defending champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this year’s Pac-10 volleyball title.  Stanford claimed 90 points, 15 more than second-place UCLA, including nine of the 10 first-place votes.  UCLA was the only other team to receive a first-place vote. USC fell into third with 68 points and Cal was picked fourth with 62 points. Both schools made it to the Final Four last season. Washington came in fifth with 59 points, followed by Oregon in sixth with 51 points. Rounding out the poll were Arizona State, Oregon State, and Washington State, respectively.

Rubio’s Record: Head coach Dave Rubio boasts a 319-185 record in his 17 seasons at the helm of the Wildcat program. In 2005, he not only became the winningest coach in Arizona history, he also notched his 400th career victory in the team’s win over Ohio in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. In 21 years as a head coach, Rubio has a 441-251 career record.






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