Wildcats To Host Stanford / Cal

Nov. 17, 2009

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Ahead This Week for UA Volleyball:   UA will host its final home-stand of the 2009 season as it welcomes No. 6 Stanford and No. 11 California to Tucson…With the season winding down, each match is crucial for possible NCAA tournament seeding…This weekend will also mark seniors Alanna Resch and Jacy Norton’s final home matches at McKale Center…On Sunday, Resch and Norton will be honored for their excellence as Wildcats following the match…Stanford and California both head to Arizona on a bit of a roll after each swept this past weekend…The Cardinal is currently tied for first in the Pac-10 with No. 4 Washington, while Cal is in fourth…UA’s first meeting with the Bay Area schools did not go as planned with the Wildcats getting swept in Palo Alto and only claiming one set in Berkeley.  Look for those results to add a little extra motivation coupled with the friendly confines of McKale…The Wildcats have a record of 11-2 this season while playing in their home arena.     


Last time out: Arizona topped in-state rival Arizona State last week, 3-0 to take the season series over the Sun Devils.  The Cats used double-digit kills from Whitney Dosty, Tiffany Owens and Courtney Karst to overwhelm ASU.  With the win, UA boosted its NCAA tournament resume.  The team is now 7-7 in the treacherous Pac-10 conference.  Owens kept her double-double streak alive vs. ASU, totaling 11 kills and 14 digs.  Junior setter Paige Weber was her usual self, setting the table with 40 assists and helping out defensively with eight digs.  The victory over ASU also provided Arizona with another point in the Territorial Cup standings – UA and ASU’s intercollegiate athletic competition consisting of 18 common sports.  The score is now 2-2 entering the rivals’ annual football game on Nov. 28. 


In the rankings: Huh? – After being ranked No. 18 in the Nov. 9 AVCA poll, the Wildcats swept its one opponent of the week and looked to maybe move up one spot or at the very least stay at 18 – its ranking for the past three weeks.  When the poll came out Monday afternoon, some were a little shocked to see the Wildcats at No. 19 behind No. 18 Oregon, which UA has beaten twice and owns a better record over or No. 15 USC.  UA knows however that the rankings have no real bearing on its play and it will continue to do its thing on the court.  On the season it’s the tenth straight week in which Arizona has appeared in the rankings after starting the season unranked. UA’s weekend opponents, Stanford and Cal, are ranked No. 6 and No. 11 respectively.  In a stat telling just how competitive the conference is, 2009 will be the first time in 24 seasons in which the league champion will have three or more losses.


Scouting this week’s opposition:

No. 6 Stanford – The Cardinal heads to Arizona currently tied for first-place with No. 4 Washington at 11-4 in conference play.  Last week Stanford swept both Oregon and Oregon State to keep its championship hopes alive.  Stanford is led defensively by Gabi Ailes who leads the conference with 6.23 digs per set and Janet Okogbaa with 72 total blocks on the season.


No. 11 California   The Golden Bears (17-8, 10-5) look to be peaking as the season enters the final stretch.  Sitting in fourth place, Cal still looks to have a shot at stealing the Pac-10 crown.  They are led by Hana Cutura, currently the leader in kills per set among the Pac-10 at 5.14.  Carli Lloyd is the quarterback of the Bears, dolling out 11.28 assists per set.


Series History and Last Head-to-Head:

No. 16 Arizona at No. 6 Stanford – Oct. 25, 2009 in Stanford, Calif. –  In Arizona’s last meeting with Stanford, the Cardinal pulled out the big points down the stretch in each set and won 3-0 over UA. The match, for being won 3-0, was decidedly close in each set as there were 10 overall lead changes and the scoreboard was tied on 28 occasions. Arizona out-killed Stanford 42-40, but committed five more errors. The Cats received noteworthy outings from Tiffany Owens and Whitney Dosty but little else from others in terms of scoring.  Owens collected her ninth double-double of the year with 12 kills and 13 digs while not committing an error and hitting .480.


No. 16 Arizona at No. 15 California – Oct. 23, 2009 in Berkeley, Calif. —  No. 16 Arizona  fell to No. 15 California, 3-1 in front of 833 at the Haas Pavilion in Berkeley in the team’s last meeting. The Cats, who entered the meeting riding a three-match winning streak, couldn’t find enough defense as Cal’s Hana Cutura went for a career-high 31 kills on 47 swings in the Golden Bears’ win.


Head Coach Dave Rubiois in his 18th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 339-196 Rubio also boasts a career record of 461-262 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.  This season Rubio has Arizona back in the top-25 rankings and posting wins over the country’s top teams.  The Cats currently own a record of 4-5 against ranked opponents in 2009. Rubio is assisted by associate head coach Steve Walker and assistant coach Allison Napier.   


Senior Day:  Seniors Jacy Norton and Alanna Resch will be playing in their final home matches this Sunday as Arizona takes on California.  Both seniors have provided excellent play and leadership throughout the year.  Looking to clinch an NCAA tournament bid for the first time in their four-year careers, Norton and Resch’s teammates would like nothing better to grant them their postseason wishes in their senior year.  Looking at the all-time charts, Norton is currently fifth in total blocks in school history with 428 rejections.  Resch, with 1,114 digs, is sixth on the school record charts.


Another Match…Another Double-Double:  With 11 kills and 14 digs against Arizona State on Friday night, Tiffany Owens notched her sixth consecutive double-double and 14th of the season.  Owens is no doubt UA’s most integral component as she passes in every rotation and is counted on to provide both offense and defense.  On the season, Owens is Arizona’s leader in kills per set with  3.67.  The San Bernardino native also has recorded 280 total digs on the season.  


Karst Play Well…Cats Well: In an increasing trend as the season has progressed, as Courtney Karst provides the Cats with an above .300 hitting percentage and around 10 kills, UA usually finds itself notching another win.  The case for this may be that Arizona knows what it most likely will receive from Tiffany Owens, Paige Weber and Alanna Resch.  But when Karst or Whitney Dosty are on, the Cats are tough to beat.       


Looking to Prove the Pollsters Wrong…and then some: In a Pac-10 preseason vote to begin the year, coaches predicted Arizona to finish seventh in the conference.  Currently the Cats sit in fifth place and will look to move up or stand pat at No. 5.  Arizona is one game up on both Oregon and USC.  It won’t be easy though as UA’s final four regular season opponents all are ranked in the top-25.


Iron Woman: Not only has Paige Weber started all 88 matches in her career at Arizona, but the junior setter has also appeared in all 304 sets over that time span as well.  She is currently sixth in the conference with an assist to set ratio of 10.72.  She has 965 total assists this season and ranks No. 5 on the conference’s active career assist chart.


Selection Sunday: Arizona will learn its NCAA tournament fate on Sunday, Nov. 29 during ESPN’s Selection Sunday.  Viewers can tune into ESPNEWS at 1 p.m. to find out where UA will be heading for the first and second rounds of the tournament.


Up Next: Arizona takes to the road for the final week of the regular season.  The Cats will face No. No. 7 UCLA on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and No. 15 USC on Saturday at 2 p.m.  Any and all former or current Wildcats who will be in Southern California over this “Thanksgiving” weekend are encouraged to come to the matches and provide the team with a lift.  


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