The No. 17 Arizona volleyball team opens the 2004 season at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 1, with a match at San Diego State.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The Wildcats return all six starters and the libero from last year’s squad that made the program’s eighth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Included in that group are two-time All-American Kim Glass, two-time All-Pacific-10 selection Bre Ladd and honorable mention All-Pac-10 outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy.
San Diego State returns just one starter and three other letterwinners from last year’s team. The lone starter is outside hitter Kara Moriarty. The Aztecs return seven other athletes who saw little or no time on the floor last season. Among the top newcomers are Melanie Greene, a transfer from Washington State who played one season there, and freshman Kristen Castillo, who is expected to be the team’s starting setter.
Arizona trails the all-time series with the Aztecs 7-20-1. The last time the two teams met, on Sept. 4, 2003, the Wildcats lost 3-1 at home. Arizona is 2-7 at home, 3-12-1 away and 2-1 at a neutral site vs. San Diego State.
Arizona is 19-8 all-time in season openers since 1977. This is the ninth-straight season that the Wildcats have opened the season away from McKale. Arizona has faced San Diego State just one other time in a season opener, sweeping the Aztecs on their home court to kick off the 1998 season.
PLAYING WITHOUT GLASS:
Junior outside hitter Kim Glass will likely miss the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. The two-time All-American has led Arizona in kills in each of the last two years.
The Wildcats feature four freshmen this season, many of whom could see significant playing time. Setter Amy Dyck will challenge for the starting spot, while outside hitter Dominique Lamb and libero Krista Chin should play. The other freshman is libero Emily Harper.
Nine of the 17 players on the Arizona roster are from California, though four of them are from the northern part of the state. The match at San Diego State marks the return home of sophomore Tyler Bowman, who attended Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar. Freshman Emily Harper is from Oceanside, which is about 40 miles north of San Diego. Sophomores Holyce Caldwell and Kristina Baum, and senior Kelli Mulvany are all from southern California.
Arizona is ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/College Sports Television (CSTV) Preseason Coaches Poll. The Wildcats are the only team in the poll that wasn’t ranked in the final 2003 poll. Arizona collected 546 points in the poll, just six less than 2004 opponent UC Santa Barbara.
Arizona has been listed in the Top 25 in 87 of the last 96 AVCA Polls, including a streak of 30 straight weeks in the Top 10 during the 2000-03 season. The Wildcats will take on eight teams ranked in the preseason poll, including six in the Top 10. Arizona is one of six teams from the Pacific-10 Conference in the poll. The Pac-10 is the only conference nationwide with five or more teams ranked in the Top 25.
Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 in a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches. The Wildcats received 55 points in the poll. Defending national champion USC was picked to win its third-straight Pac-10 title, receiving eight first-place votes and 89 points. UCLA was second with two first-place votes and 78 points, while Washington was third with 71 points. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in nine of the previous 15 polls. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
QUOTING HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO:
"Given the lineup change, we’d certainly like the opportunity to practice more with the players in these new positions. That said, after practicing against each other for the last few weeks, it will be nice to compete against other competition."
Arizona travels to Hawaii for the Rainbow Wahine Classic this Friday-Sunday, Sept. 3-5. On Friday, the Wildcats face Eastern Washington at 5 p.m. (HST). Arizona plays San Diego at 2 p.m. (HST) on Saturday, followed by a 6 p.m. match against No. 13 Hawaii on Sunday.