Wildcats Host Trojans, Bruins

Sept. 22, 2009

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No. 19 Arizona (11-0, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. No. 13 USC (11-1, 0-0 Pac-10)  |  Friday, Sept. 25 | 7:00 p.m.| McKale Center

No. 19 Arizona (11-0, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. No. 14 UCLA (10-3, 0-0 Pac-10) | Saturday, Sept. 26 | 7:00 p.m. | McKale Center

This Week: Arizona volleyball begins Pac-10 conference play as the Wildcats prepare to take on USC and UCLA.  The Cats will tangle with the Trojans Friday night before playing the Bruins on Saturday evening.  Arizona ran through its non-conference schedule unscathed as it set a school-record, charting 11 straight victories to begin the season.                                                                                            


Last time out: The Wildcats concluded their fourth tournament of the season with their fourth tournament victory.  On Saturday morning the team swept through Tulane, 3-0.  They then came back to defeat New Mexico in a five-set thriller in which the Wildcats found themselves trailing for the first time all season.  To date the team has only dropped four sets, two coming against the Lobos.  Sunday morning Arizona routed UTEP to win the Arizona Invitational.  Tiffany Owens was named MVP for the weekend and Elise Hendrickson and Alanna Resch were also lauded as 'All-Tournament' selections. 


In the rankings:  Arizona moved up two places in the latest AVCA poll to No. 19 with 382 total votes.  It's the third consecutive poll in which the Wildcats have appeared after starting the season unranked.  The Pac-10 places seven teams within the top-25 for the second straight week.


Scouting this week's opposition:

Southern California - After dropping its non-conference opener at Michigan State, the Women of Troy have ripped off 11 straight victories and are ranked No. 13 in this week's AVCA poll.  Since their five-set defeat to the Spartans, USC has only given up one set while facing  two ranked opponents and nine unranked teams.


UCLA - The No. 14 Bruins have been a bit up-and-down through the early non-conference schedule.  UCLA, two weeks ago, impressively defeated Nebraska on its home floor, something that hadn't been accomplished in 90 straight home matches for the Cornhuskers. Also of note, the victory came in front of an NCAA season-high 13,870 fans in attendance.  Then playing in the Fullerton Classic, the Bruins fell to Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State before topping Fordham.  Overall, UCLA stands at 10-3.  


Series History and Last Head-to-Head:

Arizona vs. No. 10 USC  - Nov. 14, 2008 in Los Angeles, Calif. - In its last meeting with the Trojans, Arizona was swept 3-0 in Los Angeles.  In their last meeting in McKale, the Wildcats topped USC in a five-set match, 3-2.  In series history, Southern California owns a 51-17 advantage over Arizona.


Arizona vs. No. 9 UCLA -- Nov. 15, 2008 in Westwood, Calif. - In their season series with the Bruins last year, Arizona fell both at home and on the road.  UCLA owns a 67-18 advantage of Arizona since 1977. The last time the Wildcats beat the Bruins came in 2007 in McKale Center.


Head Coach Dave Rubio ...is in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 332-189.  Rubio also boasts a career record of 454-255 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.


11 Straight:  Arizona's school record of 11-0 straight victories is somewhat hard to believe given the Wildcats' rich history and Final Four run in 2001. However in the `01 season, Arizona's only losses came against No. 1 Long Beach State, No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 USC and No. 8 UCLA.  This year the Wildcats have faced teams that are usually ranked among the nation's top-25 and will mostly like make the NCAA Tournament, but were not ranked during the respective week in which the Cats faced them.


Pac-10 Active Leader: Senior Jacy Norton is holding firm in her position as the conference leader in total blocks.  With 13 blocks this past weekend in the Arizona Invitational, Norton now has 384 total blocks.  She leads second-place Neticia Enesi of Oregon by 29 career blocks.


Efficiency Counts:  Through Arizona's hot start, the team has managed  to drop only a total of four sets in 11 matches.  With two of those 'fallen' sets coming in their five-set match vs. New Mexico, the Cats have been otherwise fairly efficient.  Their strategy of jumping out early and keeping the opponent out of the match early on seems to be working for Coach Rubio's crew. 


Possible Road Success? After Arizona's 3-0 win over Santa Clara on Thursday, the Cats equaled their total number of road wins from all of last season with two.  The team will have to wait a little while to pick up its next road win, but the odds are in the Cats favor of bettering its road win total from 2008.  


TO...TO, and TO - Tiffany Owens' play in recent weeks has been All American worthy.  The junior from San Bernardino posted 53 kills and 4.28 k/s during the Arizona Invitational.  Against New Mexico when it seemed as if her teammates just couldn't put the ball between the lines, Owens carried them to the victory, registering a career-high 29 kills.


Karst filling the void:  For the second consecutive weekend, Outside hitter Whitney Dosty was unable to play due to injury, but sophomore Courtney Karst filled the void with 13 total kills in the Arizona Invitational.  Karst was particularly impressive against Tulane as she chipped in with eight slays.


Arizona Invitational Honors: After winning the Santa Clara Invite this past weekend over Santa Clara and Utah, Tiffany Owens was named MVP of the tournament.  Owens was also part of the All Tournament team along with senior Jacy Norton and sophomore Courtney Karst.  Karst who filled in for Whitney Dosty this past weekend played big with 18 total kills.


Total Non-Conference Honors:  After winning the Arizona Invitational, Arizona's total  number of honors is quite impressive.  Tiffany Owens garnered three MVP nods (Sheraton Cardinal Classic, SCU Invitational and the Arizona Invitational), Paige Weber was the MVP of the Wildcat Classic and an All Tournament choice in Louisville.  Blocker Jacy Norton was a two-time All Tournament choice, with Wildcat Classic and SCU Invite honors.  Sophomores Elise Hendrickson, Courtney Karst and Dana Hutchinson also got in on the action, earning All-Tournament praise in the Arizona Invite, SCU Invite and Cardinal Classic, respectively.


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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