Arizona Heads to The Beaver State

Nov. 5, 2009

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This Week: After earning a split between the Washington schools at home, Arizona volleyball hits the road for a two-match weekend in Oregon against No. 14 Ducks and Beavers.  The Cats topped both schools when they met at McKale in October and both teams will look to return the favor.  The Ducks and Beavs met last weekend with Oregon winning a four-set match that seemed more like a five-setter.  That is because the first set was won 39-37—the longest set since the new scoring system was put into place.  The Cats must contend with OSU’s Rachel Rourke who tallied a conference-high 36 kills on Friday night.  Additionally the Ducks currently own a home record of 9-1.


Last time out:  Facing fifth-ranked Washington, the Cats did something no other UW opponent has been able to ekk out – a first set win. Arizona looked to be rolling after winning 25-18.  The Huskies came back though and took the next three sets to win the match outright.  The Wildcats were down after seeing its opportunities slip away against UW, but they knew that they would not be able to dwell on the loss very long as they had Washington State coming to town in less than 24 hours.  Bouncing back, the Cats looked sharp in a four-set victory over the Cougars.  In set three, Arizona’s 25-11 victory was the largest margin of victory all year.  With the win, the Cats moved even with WSU at matching 5-6 conference records, one match up on USC who is at 4-7 and a half game behind No. 14 Oregon at 5-5.


In the rankings: Arizona held its No. 18 ranking this week after the split against Washington and Washington State. It is the ninth consecutive poll in which the Wildcats have appeared after starting the season unranked.  Pac-10 holds steady with eight teams ranked for the third time this season.   

Oregon charts in at No. 14 while Oregon State received 16 points.


Scouting this week’s opposition:

No. 14 Oregon – The Ducks currently have a record of 5-5 in conference and are ranked 14th overall.  In their last outing, Oregon beat rival Oregon State in a thrilling match.  The Ducks took set one 39-37 to take the momentum and prevail.  The Ducks are led by Sonja Newcombe with 4.35 kills per set.  Heather Meyers also serves up a wicked ball, totaling 33 aces


Oregon State – The Beavs take on the Arizona schools looking to spark their conference schedule.  The team has lost several close matches including a five setter to Arizona last month.  Rachel Rourke leads OSU with 4.74 kills per set.  Rourke hit for a conference-high 36 kills on Friday night against UO. Oregon State has a conference record of 2-8.


Series History and Last Head-to-Head:

No. 22 Arizona vs. Oregon State – Oct. 9, 2009 in Tucson, Ariz. – Needing a win to avoid falling into a deep hole in conference play, Arizona pulled out a five set match, that possibly could have been a sweep if it had took care of business.  Arizona posted team-highs in kills, attempts and digs in the teams first meeting.


No. 22 Arizona vs. No. 11 Oregon – Oct. 10, 2009 in Tucson, Ariz. — Against Oregon last month, Arizona used its momentum from topping Oregon State and upset No. 11 Oregon to stay in the Pac-10 chase.  Tiffany Owens, Whitney Dosty, Courtney Karst, Jacy Norton and Stephanie Snow all had 10 or more kills while the team had an overall hitting percentage of .302.


Head Coach Dave Rubiois in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 337-195 Rubio also boasts a career record of 458-257 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 in 2008 over top-11 teams, including No. 11 USC, No. 8 Oregon and No. 6 Cal.


On the Blocks: Jacy Norton, the active career leader in total blocks, had one of her best weekends of the season, amassing 10 blocks including six solo rejections.  On Saturday night, Norton’s four solo blocks were a team and conference high.  On the year she has 76 blocks, good for an average of one block per set. 


Iron Woman: Not only has Paige Weber started all 84 matches in her career at Arizona, but the junior setter has also appeared in all 293 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 836 total assists this season and ranks No. 5 on the conference’s active career assist chart.


Consistency Matters:  Tiffany Owens had another stellar weekend for Arizona as she totaled 15 kills against both No. 5 Washington and No. 21 Washington State.  Owens also got after it on the defense end, tallying 10 digs on Friday and 11 on Saturday to give her a double-double both nights.  The junior now has 11 dubs on the year including three in a row.  Arizona will need the same type of production if they hope to sweep the weekend against Oregon.


They’re Due...: The sophomore class has been riding a tubular wave this season, at times leading the team in kills and having standout performances and other times being relegated to the bench.  If they continue on their current streak, look for Dana Hutchinson, Courtney Karst, Kaylen Bannister and Elise Hendrickson to have big weekends in Oregon.


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: Arizona returns back to McKale Center next Friday as it takes on in-state rival Arizona State at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14.  In their last meeting, the Cats beat ASU, 3-1.  If they should win, Arizona would gain another point in the new Territorial Cup standings.


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