Arizona begins 2009 season in Louisville, Ky.
Aug. 25, 2009
This Week: The Arizona volleyball team will begin its 2009 season on the road in the Louisville Tournament in Louisville, Ky. The Wildcats return all five starters and their libero from a season ago. Pac-10 Honorable Mention Tiffany Owens along with fellow juniors Paige Weber and Whitney Dosty look to lead Arizona back into postseason play.
Rankings: Arizona is unranked in the AVCA’s 2009 preseason poll, but received 18 votes to tie for No. 38. Six Pac-10 teams appear in the preseason rankings led by Washington at No. 4.
Scouting the Opposition:
Louisville- The winner of the BIG EAST crown a season ago as the No. 3 seed, Louisville boasts two unanimous All-BIG EAST Preseason Team selections in seniors Lecia Brown and Justine Landi. Head coach Leonid Yelin and the Cardinals received an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in 2008, but were topped by No. 10 Purdue in five sets.
Belmont- Last season the Belmont Bruins won the Atlantic Sun Conference with an overall record of 25-8. The Bruins are coached by Deane Webb who is in her sixth year at Belmont and has a career record of 254-130. An NCAA tournament team a season ago, Belmont will return five starters and nine letterwinners.
Pittsburgh- The Panthers return three starters and their libero from a team that finished last season with an overall record of 17-14. Head coach Toby Rens begins his second season at Pitt with hopes of leading the Panthers back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the team was there in 2004. In addition to the three returning starters, Pitt welcomes eight newcomers to the team.
Louisville – Arizona and Louisville have met four times in their respective history with Arizona leading the series three matches to one. The Wildcats currently have a two match winning streak against the Cardinals.
Belmont – Saturday’s meeting will be the first between Arizona and Belmont.
Pittsburgh – When the Cats face Pittsburgh on Saturday evening it will mark the seventh meeting between the two schools. The teams have split their previous six meetings with Arizona taking the last meeting in 2006.
Arizona at No. 12 Louisville – Sept. 2, 2006 in Louisville, Ky. – In 2006, the Cats traveled to play in the Louisville Tournament and topped the 12th ranked Cardinals, three games to one. Arizona won the first set (30-24), dropped the second set (20-30), then took the next two games to win the match.
Arizona at Pittsburgh – Sept. 15, 2006 in Evanston, Ill. – The Wildcats swept the Panthers in their last meeting, winning the first two games of the match 31-29, before closing out Pittsburgh 30-13.
Head Coach Dave Rubio …is in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona. In that time span, Rubio has a record of 321-189 (.629). Rubio also boasts a career record of 443-255 in 23 career years. In the last ten seasons, Rubio has guided the Wildcats to five Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights and to Arizona’s first-ever Final Four. His teams have won over 200 matches during this ten-year stretch, including 16 in the NCAA Tournament, which is six more than the previous 14 postseason teams combined. Rubio and the Wildcats finished above .500 in 2008 with the Wildcats posting a 16-14 record, just missing the NCAA tournament. Arizona pulled off three upset wins over top-11 teams, including No. 11 USC, No. 8 Oregon and No. 6 Cal.
Early Leadership: Junior setter Paige Weber has established herself as a leader early on in fall practices. The Indianapolis native has played every set in her Wildcat career and is focused on getting to the NCAA tournament for the first time in her career.
Active Blocker: Senior Jacy Norton enters the 2009 season as the active leader in total blocks in the Pac-10. Norton has recorded 339 blocks in her career at Arizona. This weekend’s road trip will be a bit of a homecoming for the Louisville, Ky. native.
“Resching” up the charts: After assuming the starting libero position in early 2008, senior Alanna Resch has jump-started her dig stats, recording 827 over her career, good for seventh overall in the Pac-10.
Sophomore Sleepers: Although sophomores Kaylen Bannister, Courtney Karst and Dana Hutchinson may not receive the early season hype, the three sophomores might be paramount to Arizona reaching NCAA play. As freshmen, Karst and Hutchinson received quite a bit of playing time. In 2009, look for all three to have an impact on the Wildcat’s success.
Owens Back for more: A season ago, Tiffany Owens had a breakout year for Arizona and garnered Pac-10 Honorable Mention for her play. This year Owens will be a focal point in the Wildcat’s offense. Recording 333 total kills last year, No. 9 will look to be among the conference leaders in the offensive statistic.
Whitney D: Redshirt junior Whitney Dosty looks to be a force from the outside hitter position for Arizona this season. The 6-4, Tucson, Ariz. native tallied 281 kills in 99 sets played in 2008.
Everyone’s Back: Arizona returns all five starters and their libero for the 2009 season. Although the team lost three veteran players in Brooke Buringrud, Randy Goodenough and Brittany Leonard, the coaching staff is confident in the amount of experience for the team entering the year.
Let it Snow: Junior Stephanie Snow, Arizona’s leader in blocks and hitting percentage in 2008, will again be its main weapon in the middle in 2009. Snow joins other juniors Tiffany Owens, Whitney Dosty and Paige Weber as returning juniors who were main contributors a season ago.
Lone Newcomer: Freshman Ellen Querrey is Arizona’s only newcomer for 2009. A native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Querrey played for the Sportshack club team and Thousand Oaks High School. The outside hitter will look to learn for veterans Whitney Dosty and Tiffany Owens.
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 42 points in the vote, as defending champion Stanford was third with Washington being the preseason favorite. The Huskies claimed 90 points, 10 more than second-place Cal, including nine of the 10 first-place votes. Cal was the only other team to receive a first-place vote. UCLA fell into fourth with 62 points and USC was picked fifth with 60 points. Oregon came in sixth with 48 points. Rounding out the poll were Arizona State, Oregon State, and Washington State, respectively.