Cats Set to Host Wildcat Classic

Sept. 1, 2009

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This Week: This weekend Arizona volleyball hosts Eastern Washington, Nevada and Houston in the 25th Wildcat Classic. Last season Arizona won the Wildcat Classic by going 3-0, posting wins over Weber State, San Jose State, Gardner-Webb.


Last time out: Arizona kicked off its 2009 schedule with wins over Louisville, Belmont and Pittsburgh in the Sheraton Riverside Cardinal Classic in Louisville, Ky.  The Cats swept both  Louisville and Belmont before toppling Pittsburgh, 3-1.


Scouting the Opposition:

Nevada- The Wolf Pack head to Tucson with a record of 1-2 after beating UConn and falling against UC Irvine and Saint Marys in the Marriott Courtyard / Fairfield Invitational last weekend.  Like Arizona, Nevada returns all five starters and its libero in 2009.  


Houston- The Cougars will be a youthful bunch in 2009 as they welcome eight newcomers. Last weekend Houston beat Southeastern Louisiana but lost against New Orleans, Baylor and Indiana in the Flo Hyman Invitational.  Veteran coach Bill Walton has a overall record at Houston of 449-226 in 24 seasons.


Eastern Washington- The Eagles return six starters from their 2008 season when they went 18-11.  This past weekend playing in the Oregon Classic in Eugene, Ore. Eastern Washington posted a record of 1-2, beating Missouri St. before falling against host Oregon and San Francisco.


Series History:

Nevada  2007 marked the first and only time that Arizona and Nevada have faced each other in volleyball.  The two teams were part of a tournament that season in Malibu, Calif. held at Pepperdine.


Houston  Arizona holds a record of 6-1 win facing the Houston Cougars.  The teams first met in 1977,  Arizona’s inaugural volleyball season.   


Eastern Washington – When the Cats face Eastern Washington on Saturday afternoon it will mark the sixth meeting between the two schools with Arizona winning every meeting.  The schools have typically met in early non conference play in recent seasons.


Last Head-to-Head:

Arizona vs. Nevada -- Sept. 1, 2007 in Malibu, Calif. – Facing Nevada on the home court of Pepperdine, Arizona beat the Wolf Pack in straight sets, 34-32, 30-21 and 30-25 in their only meeting.


No. 25 Houston at Arizona – Sept. 4, 1993 in Tucson Ariz. – You have to go back all the way to 1993 to find the last time the Cats and Cougs met on the volleyball court.  Playing in the 11th Wildcat Classic, Arizona downed No. 25 Houston three games to one.


Eastern Washington at Arizona - Aug. 24, 2007 in Tucson, Ariz. -- The Cats swept the Eagles in their last meeting, winning in straight sets, 30-25, 30-18, 30-24.  Only twice in series history has Arizona not swept Eastern Washington, 1996 in Tucson and 2004 in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Harbinger for future success?  Arizona opened the 2009 season with three victories playing away from McKale Center for the first time since the 2001 season when the Cats made the Final Four.  That year Arizona played in Gainesville, Fla. And knocked off South Florida, Marshall and host Florida. Certainly no one would put the pressure of a Final Four run on any team, but if the Wildcats continue to play well away from McKale, there is no doubt they will have a successful season.


Three Straight:  Other than the 2006 season, when Arizona begins 3-0, the Wildcats have finished with at least a .500 record or better since they began play in 1977.  Last season Arizona started the season 4-0 and finished 16-14, narrowing missing postseason play. 


Head Coach Dave Rubiois in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 324-189 (.629).  Rubio also boasts a career record of 446-255 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.


Dishing them out: Junior setter Paige Weber got off to a fast start this past weekend, handing out 113 total assists in Louisville.  She however wasn’t just limited to setting up teammates as she also recorded 12 kills on 21 total attempts.  When you add in 18 digs for the Indianapolis native, you get see everything that Weber brings to the Cats.


Block Party: Senior Jacy Norton, who grew up in Louisville, Ky., had a terrific homecoming this past weekend, tallying 15 total blocks in three matches.  Norton is the active leader in the conference with 354 blocks and played a significant role as the main middle blocker for Arizona over its three wins. Her and fellow senior Alanna Resch will be counted upon to provide experience and leadership for a youth 2009 team.


Intimidation factor: Last year when Arizona was “out-killed” by an opponent over a respective match, the result was generally not favorable as one could assume.  However in Louisville this weekend, Arizona finished with less kills against Pittsburgh and Louisville yet still won each of those matches.  By limiting their own number of errors and forcing the opposition into tough situations, the Wildcats outperformed their opponent to garner the win.  However, when conference play roles around, teams will be a lot sharper, commit  less errors and generally will win if they post a greater number of kills.


She can dig it: Libero Alanna Resch certainly has a knack for defense and to no one’s surprise, the Wildcat libero is tied for the team lead with 28 digs through three matches.  Resch also contributed in scoring for Arizona with a team-high four serving aces during opening weekend.


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.  Against Belmont, Hutchinson led the team with 14 kills and a hitting percentage of .571. Not to be out done, Karst recorded 12 kills a few hours later against Pittsburgh.


Pac-10 Player of the Week:  Junior outside hitter Tiffany Owens led Arizona this past with 39 kills, 28 digs while hitting .344.  For her performance, Owens was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 24-30.  Against Pittsburgh on Aug. 29, Owens was particularly stellar in leading Arizona to the win.  She tallied 17 kills and 14 digs while hitting .368.


More Awards: Along with being named Pac-10 Player of the Week, Owens was also honored by being named the Most Valuable Player for the Sheraton Riverside Cardinal Classic.  Teammates Dana Hutchinson and Paige Weber also garnered ‘All-Tournament’ honors for their play in Louisville.


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 team with Jacy Norton for a formidable duo this season in the middle.  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.


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