No. 19 Arizona Meets Texas A&M
Dec. 2, 2009
Date: Friday, Dec. 4, 2009
Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
NCAA Omaha Region First / Second Rounds
The No. 19 Arizona volleyball team (19-10) has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and will face Texas A&M (18-10) in the first round at 5 p.m. Central Time Friday, Dec. 4, at Pete Maravich Assembly Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. The other first round match pits No. 18 LSU (24-6) against Tulane (18-9) at 7:30 p.m. Winners of the two matches will face off in the second round at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The No. 19 Wildcats finished the regular season with a record of 19-10, 8-10 in conference, good for seventh overall. Arizona dropped its last two decisions on the road last weekend to No. 9 UCLA and No. 15 USC. On the year, Arizona posted a record of 8-9 against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. UA had a record of 5-8 against ranked opponents, highlighted by wins over No. 10 Cal, No. 15 USC and No. 17 Oregon (twice).
The Cats are led this season by junior Tiffany Owens who totaled 396 kills for a kill per set ratio of 3.74. Owens also was second on the team in digs with 335. Other standout juniors for Arizona in 2009 include setter Paige Weber who finished the regular season with 1,138 assists, 30 service aces and 44 total blocks. The Wildcat captain had an assist-to-set ratio of 10.74, good for sixth-best in the Pac-10 Conference. Whitney Dosty, UA’s opposite hitter, also had a productive regular season. The Tucson, Ariz. native was slowed over the first half of the year by injuries, but came on strong in conference, totaling 204 kills (k/s 3.14) through 65 conference sets played. Arizona libero Alanna Resch led the team in total digs with 350. Resch, Owens and Weber started all 106 sets played in the regular season. Charting the Cats in blocks over the season was senior Jacy Norton. Norton recorded an even 100 total blocks (29 solo, 71 assisted) and hit for an average of .281.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Texas A&M - Like the Wildcats, Texas A&M is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. The Aggies posted an 18-10 record overall. Additionally A&M was 11-9 in Big 12 play, tied with Baylor and Oklahoma for fourth place. The Aggies enter the postseason riding a four-match winning streak to go along with a 10-set win streak. Over the year TAMU was 2-6 vs. ranked opponents with victories coming against No. 6 Nebraska and No. 17 Baylor.
Individually, Texas A&M is led by kills leader Sarah Ammerman with a kill per set ratio of 4.23. In her last outing vs. Missouri, Ammerman posted a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs to help her team to the win. Jennifer Banse is the other A&M hitter. Banse tallied 294 kills over the regular. Both Ammerman and Banse were All-Big 12 First Team Selections. Kristen Schevikhoven is the Aggie setter, dishing out 11.25 assists per set.
The Aggies are coached by Laurie Corbelli who is in her 17th season at the helm and is TAMU’s winningest coach.
LSU - The Tigers are 24-6 on the season after being swept by Rice to end the regular season. The 2009 SEC Champions and No. 15 seed in the Tournament are led by Brittnee Cooper who paced the SEC with a .390 hitting percentage and recorded over a .400 clip in 17 matches.
Sam Dabbs, the team’s setter, dished out 1,067 assists at a 11.23 per set ratio, good enough for second in the SEC. She set the Tigers to over a .300 hitting percentage on 13 occasions and racked up 10 double-doubles.
Marina Skender tallied double-digit kills in 26 matches, including 23 of her last 25 outings. Cooper, Dabbs and Skender were all named to the SEC’s All-Conference First Team.
As a team the Tigers hit for an average of .265 compared to its opponents’ .181. The Tigers and Wildcats had two similar opponents in Stanford and Tulane in ’09. The Tigers lost their opening match of the season to Stanford in five sets and split their season series against Tulane. Overall against ranked opponents, the Bayou Bengals had a record of 2-4, topping Florida twice and falling to No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Nebraska and No. 7/16 Kentucky twice. LSU’s SEC Championship was its first since 1991.
Tulane - The Green Wave finished the regular season with a record of 18-9, losing to Tulsa in three sets to close out the schedule. Tulane went 12-4 in conference, good for third place in Conference USA.
This is Tulane’s second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament after receiving an at-large bid. Tulane posted three wins in eight matches against teams which made the 2009 NCAA Tournament field, with wins over LSU, Rice and Mountain West at-large New Mexico. The Green Wave fell to No. 10 national seed Nebraska, Big West champion Long Beach State, LSU, Rice and UA.
Visnja Djurdjevic leads Tulane with 433 total kills with a hitting percentage of .212. Rachel Lindelow is the Green Wave quarterback, dolling out 1,093 assists at a 10.93 clip. Djurdjevic was the Co-Player of the Year in Conference USA while Lindelow and Ksenija Vlaskovic were named to the All-Conference Second Team.
Against first-round opponent LSU, the Green Wave has won three out of five against the Tigers dating back to 2003, with the two teams splitting the series this season. Tulane topped LSU on Sept. 11 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic in Fogelman Arena, 3-1. The Green Wave fell to LSU at the PMAC, 3-0 on Sept. 5 in the Tiger Classic.
Texas A&M The Wildcats are 3-3 all-time vs. the Aggies. The last time the two teams met, on Nov. 17, 1990, Arizona lost 3-1 in Tucson. An Arizona team led by Coach Dave Rubio has never faced Texas A&M.
LSU - Arizona is 2-2 all-time against the Tigers. The teams’ last meeting occurred Sept. 9, 1989 in Baton Rouge, La. and LSU defeated Arizona 3-1. Like Texas A&M, Rubio’s Arizona teams have never faced the Bayou Bengals.
Tulane - The Wildcats are 1-0 vs. the Green Wave with its win this season over Tulane. Arizona swept the match 3-0 in match one of the Arizona Invitational with Tiffany Owens recording 14 kills and 16 digs. The win was Arizona’s ninth consecutive victory to start the season.
HEAD COACH Dave Rubio…is 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 5-8 against ranked opponents in 2009. Rubio is assisted by associate head coach Steve Walker and assistant coach Allison Napier.
ARIZONA TOURNAMENT TIDBITS:
Arizona is 8-9 this season against the other teams in the 2009 NCAA Tournament field. Making its 22nd appearance and 13th under head coach Dave Rubio, Arizona looks prime to make the most of its postseason opportunity, its first in four seasons. Prior to 2006, Arizona had qualified for the NCAA Tournament 11 straight seasons under Rubio (1995-05). Arizona made its first NCAA trip in 1981. The Cats have an all-time tournament record of 26-21. Impressively, under Rubio, Arizona holds a 22-12 tournament record. In 2001, Arizona qualified for its first-ever Final Four appearance.
The Pac-10 has the most representatives in this season’s NCAA field with eight teams. Stanford received the conference’s automatic berth and was awarded with a No. 4 seed and the right to host both the first/second rounds and the regional. Washington received a No. 6 seed, followed by UCLA at No. 8 and CAL at No. 9. Oregon (9-9 in conference) is the No. 14 seed, with USC, Arizona and Washington State rounding out the rest of the Pac-10 field. Additionally, the Pac-10 has captured 13 of the 28 NCAA Volleyball titles including 11 of the last 19. Three Pac-10 teams have made it to the Final Four in 1985, 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in the Arizona single season record books thus far. Tiffany Owens is currently tenth in single season attempts with 1,110 and will most likely pass No. 9 Julie Kakuska (1,118 in 1988) and maybe even No. 8 Jennifer Abernathy (1,143 in 2005). Alanna Resch looks to move in to the top-10 in single season digs for her 2009 showing. She needs five digs to pass Brittany Leonard’s total in 2005. Resch already is second on the list for her 2008 total of 405 digs. Owens would need 44 kills to crack the single season top-10 chart for kills. Currently assistant coach Allison Napier holds the tenth spot with 440 total kills in 2000.
ALL-PAC-10 HONORABLE MENTION:
Arizona placed four players on to the All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention Team. Whitney Dosty, Jacy Norton, Tiffany Owens and Paige Weber make up the quartet for the Wildcats. With Dosty, Owens and Weber returning for 2010, Arizona could be ready for a big year.
FOUR NAMED TO PAC-10 ALL ACADEMIC LIST:
Junior Paige Weber and sophomores Dana Hutchinson, Kaylen Bannister and Elise Hendrickson all were lauded for their work in the classroom and named to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team. Weber, a business major with a GPA of 3.84, made the first team. Hutchinson, undeclared so far with a 3.79 GPA, made the second team while Bannister and Hendrickson were both honorable mention nominees.
Arizona has appeared in 13 of the 14 AVCA polls in 2009. After starting the season unranked, Arizona cracked the top-25 on Sept. 7 and has been ranked ever since. Its highest ranking came on Oct. 19 when the team was ranked No. 16. The Wildcats currently find themselves ranked 19th overall, its position for the last three weeks.
Seven Pac-10 teams appear in this week’s poll with No. 4 Stanford leading the way, followed by No. 6 Washington, No. 9 UCLA, No. 10 California, No. 15 USC, No. 17 Oregon and No. 19 Arizona.
RANKING IN THE PAC:
Individually, several Wildcats ranked in the Top 10 in conference matches in various statistical categories. Junior Tiffany Owens is eighth in kills per set with 3.74 and tenth among conference leaders in digs per set with 3.16. Alanna Resch is just in front of Owens on the conference list, sitting in ninth with 3.30 digs per set. Paige Weber ranks sixth in the conference with an assist-to-set ratio of 10.74. Weber is also seventh in average service aces with .28 and a total of 30 aces in 106 sets played. Middle Blocker Stephanie Snow just snuck in to the top 10 in hitting percentage with an average of 3.24 through 89 sets played.
CONFERENCE ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS:
Arizona boasts several of the Pac-10’s active career statistical leaders. Senior Jacy Norton is the career active leader in total blocks with 439. Norton has led the category from the beginning of 2009. Libero Alanna Resch is seventh on the career active charts for digs with 1,177. Paige Weber ranks in at No. 7 on the active career service ace charts with 95 in her Wildcat career.
SEARCHING FOR 20 WINS:
With Arizona’s next win, it will reach the 20-win plateau for the 16th time in program history and the 10th time under head coach Dave Rubio. Arizona has not recorded 20 wins in a season since 2005.
Junior and double-double machine Tiffany Owens has recorded 17 double-doubles in 2009. She has recorded the stat in nine of her team’s last 10 matches. Whitney Dosty and Paige Weber both have four apiece while Dana Hutchinson recorded two early in the season. In Arizona’s last outing at USC, Owens put up 22 kills and 14 digs and Dosty had 20 kills and 10 digs.
Simply put, when Arizona hits for a better percentage against an opponent, they win. With a record of 17-0 when hitting for a better percentage against the opposition, Arizona must limit its errors to be successful. Because on the flip side of that 17-0 stat, is how when the Wildcats are trailing in attack percentage they have a record of just 2-10. Another barometer for success is when Arizona holds an opponent to under .250 hitting , it holds a record of 17-1.
Junior Paige Weber has been the model of consistency throughout her three years at Arizona. The Wildcat captain has presently started all 92 matches in her career. This season Weber put up 1,138 assists to go along with 30 service aces, 44 blocks, 215 digs and 72 kills. Having an experienced veteran such as Weber setting up the hitters will no doubt put the Cats at ease during the tournament.
DIGGIN IT LATELY:
Senior Alanna Resch has been getting after it lately on the defensive end. Arizona’s dig leader recently put up a season-high 22 digs against USC last Saturday in the regular season finale. Before that, Resch teamed with Tiffany Owens to tally 34 digs against California (17 each) to lead Arizona to an upset win over No. 11 California. On the year, Resch has 350 digs, good for ninth in the Pac-10 Conference. The San Diego, Calif. native also is one of Arizona’s better servers with 24 aces to rank in second on the team. On the all-time Arizona dig charts, Resch has moved all the way up to No. 3 with 1,177. Next up to pass at No. 2 is Kelli Mulvany with 1,203 digs.
SHE’S ON THE BLOCKS:
Arizona’s other senior, Jacy Norton has been having a stellar 2009 campaign as well. Norton leads the team with 100 blocks (29 solo, 71 assisted) and also is hitting a very respectable .281 on 385 total swings. Norton remains at No. 5 on the all-time total blocks chart at Arizona with 439. Next up to pass is All-American Bre Ladd’s total of 466. As the elder stateswoman among Pac-10 middle blockers in 2009, Norton has held the active career total blocks mark for the entire season.
The Wildcats got some of its swagger back when Whitney Dosty recovered from a hand injury that plagued her early on in the non-conference season. The Tucson, Ariz. native came on strong in conference, putting up double digit kills in all but three Pac-10 matches. Last Saturday vs. USC, Dosty rebounded from an off match vs. UCLA to go for 20 kills and 10 digs vs. the Trojans. The 6’3 hitter must focus on consistency and limiting her errors. But when No. 21 rockets the ball in between the lines, very few can stop it.
TIFFA DOES IT ALL:
To say Tiffany Owens is a vital part of the Arizona volleyball team doesn’t tell the whole story. Owens leads Arizona in kills (396) and attempts (1,110) is second on the team in digs (335), third on the team in assists (27) and also chips in with 15 service aces and 30 total blocks. The junior from San Bernardino, Calif. has a total of 1,094 kills in her career. That figure should put her in line with some of Arizona’s all-time leaders when Owens is a senior.
WATCH FOR KARST:
Often times, when Courtney Karst has a big night offensively that usually bodes well for Arizona’s chances to win. In her 12 matches where she tallied 10 or more digs, Arizona posted a record of 8-4. Furthermore, Karst had two four-match streaks in which she rattled off double digit kills.
As always, Arizona has faced a tough schedule in 2009. Included on the slate were 17 matches against teams that will participate in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats also faced six teams (Stanford, Washington, UCLA, California, USC and Oregon) that are currently ranked in the Top 25 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
Should Arizona win its first-round match, it will face the winner of the LSU-Tulane match in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.