No. 16 Arizona Ready for the Bay

Oct. 21, 2009

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This Week: Arizona, riding a three-match conference winning streak, stays on the road this weekend as it travels to Northern California to face No. 15 California on Friday evening and No. 6 Stanford on Sunday afternoon.  The Cats will look to improve upon their mini-streak, which is currently tops in the Pac-10.  The Golden Bears and Cardinal defend their home-court well however with Stanford undefeated at home and Cal only dropping one match in Berkeley—to Stanford, 3-2.

With six teams in the conference all separated by one match, this weekend could prove to be a turning point for Arizona as it looks to break away from the ‘Pac.’


Last time out: Arizona put to bed several streaks this weekend when it topped in-state rival Arizona State last Friday night in Tempe.  The Cats came out with a chip on their shoulders and won the first two sets before pulling out the match, 3-1.  They hit an impressive .333, a team high in conference play this season, and were led by Whitney Dosty’s 19 kills (.467) and Courtney Karst’s 15 kills (.323).  Weber set the table with 47 assists, seven digs and three big kills.  It was Arizona’s first win in Tempe since 2005 and first conference road win this season.  Before winning set one at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, the Cats had been completely shut out in there trips to the Valley in ’06, ’07 and ’08.


In the rankings:  Arizona moved up in the rankings for the second straight week, up to No. 16 in the latest AVCA weekly poll.  It’s the seventh consecutive poll in which the Wildcats have appeared after starting the season unranked.  It also is Arizona’s highest ranking since 2005 when it narrowly missed the Final Four and finished at No. 7 overall.  The Pac-10 maintains seven teams earning nods in the top-25.  Stanford charts in at No. 6 while California is slated at No. 15.


Scouting this week’s opposition:

No. 15 California – The Golden Bears face the Wildcats with a conference record of 3-4.  Against the Oregon schools this past weekend, Cal came away with a split after getting swept by Oregon on Friday night but managed to bounce back and defeat Oregon State, 3-0.  They are led by Hana Cutura who currently has 1,684 total kills in her career.  Veteran setter Carli Lloyd also facilitates the offense for Cal as she had an assist to serve ratio of 10.92.


No. 6 Stanford – The Cardinal enters weekend play with a record of 5-2 in the Pac-10, good for second place behind Washington.  In their last time out, Stanford was upset by Oregon for the first time since 1989.  Gabi Ailes leads things defensively for Stanford with 318 total digs this season – tops in the conference.  Alix Klineman is SU’s main offensive weapon as she averages 3.86 kills per set.  Janet Okogbaa leads the team with a hitting percentage of .371.  


Series History and Last Head-to-Head:

Arizona vs. No. 6 California  – Nov. 07, 2008 in Tucson, Ariz. – Rebounding from a loss to Arizona State the match before, the Cats came out with a vengeance against the Golden Bears and took the opening two sets before squeaking out the W with a five-set victory. Sophomore Tiffany Owens tied a career-high with 19 digs to go along with her team best 17 kills, while freshman Courtney Karst tied a career-high with eight kills, making her first start of the season at middle blocker. For Owens that was her seventh double-double. Arizona owns a 33-15 advantage over the Golden Bears in 48 meetings.


Arizona vs. No. 2 Stanford – Nov. 08, 2008 in Tucson, Ariz. — The Cardinal used the 16-kill performance by 2007 national player of the year Foluke Akinradewo to thwart any kind of Arizona rally as the Cats fell to the Cardinal, 3-0. Akinradewo led the Stanford offensive charge, hitting .652 for the match. The rest of the team hit at a .341 clip compared to the Wildcats .160 hitting percentage. Stanford has beaten Arizona 51 out of the 58 times they have faced one another.


Head Coach Dave Rubiois in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 336-192 Rubio also boasts a career record of 458-255 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.


Iron Woman: Not only has Paige Weber started all 80 matches in her career at Arizona, but the junior setter has also appeared in all 278 sets over that time span as well.  She is currently sixth in the conference with an assist to set ratio of 10.58.  She has 677 total assists this season and ranks No. 5 on the conference’s active career assist chart. 


Lady D: Continuing to improve every time on the floor, Whitney Dosty was something special on Friday night against Arizona State.  The Tucson native hit for a career-high .467 average on her way to 19 kills. As well as her 19 kills, Dosty notched her first double-double of the season with 10 digs.


Deceiving Stats :  Although Tiffany Owens hit for zero, her impact on the match against Arizona State on Friday goes way beyond her hitting percentage.  Any time a player misses a double-double by two kills and it isn’t consider a match up to her standard, you know you are talking a pretty unique player.  Owens is the Wildcats’ leader in kills at 237, 100+ more than the next closest Cat and she is also the team leader in digs at 194.


Spread the Wealth: Over this three-match conference winning streak, Arizona has been able to spread the ball around and not be as reliant on one or two players.  Against ASU, Whitney Dosty and Courtney Karst led things with 19 and 15 kills, respectively. Three others got in on the action as well though with Tiffany Owens tallying eight slays while Jacy Norton and Stephanie


The Snow Has Returned: For the second consecutive week, Stephanie Snow received some significant court time playing in her hometown of Tempe, Ariz. on Friday.  The Marcos de Niza alum recorded seven kills on 12 swings and tallied a team-high six blocks.  All three middle blockers; Snow, Jacy Norton and Kaylen Bannister pose a unique match up and the Cats use them in specific lineups to gain an advantage.


Special K: Hitter Courtney Karst very well may be one of Arizona’s most significant players.  The Colorado native seems to put up big numbers in each of the teams’ top wins and that stat held true this past weekend.  Against Arizona State, Karst posted 15 kills on .323 hitting.  After set two in Tempe, the sophomore looked to be on her way to an eye-popping night with 12 kills and a hitting percentage around .700.  Her 15 slays however were still good for a career-high.


Outkilled, but Not Beaten: Arizona has been behind in kills eight occurrences this season and has a record of 6-2.  Against the Oregon schools, Arizona finished with less kills than the opposition, yet still won.  Against ASU, the Cats dominated the stat sheet and outkilled the Devils by 15 in route to their 3-1 win.


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.


Up Next: UA returns home to McKale Center next week as it hosts No. 4 Washington and Washington State over Halloween weekend, Oct. 30 and 31, respectively.



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