With its first Pac-10 victory of the season in the books, the Arizona women’s volleyball team (10-9, 1-6 Pac-10) looks to move up in the conference standings this week as the Wildcats host Washington State (13-8, 1-6 Pac-10) on Thursday, and No. 6 Washington (15-3, 5-2 Pac-10) on Friday at 7 p.m. in McKale Center. Thursday night’s match with the Cougars will open a four-match home stand for the Wildcats.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The Wildcats deleted their goose egg in the Pac-10 win column with a 3-0 road sweep over Oregon State last Thursday, ending a six-match losing skid. Arizona earned its sixth sweep of the season behind a season-high .310 hitting percentage (52-16-116) against the Beavers. Arizona managed to defeat Oregon State for the 20th consecutive match. UA was unable to complete the weekend road sweep on the Oregon Trail, however, as the Wildcats were swept by the Oregon Ducks on Friday.
On the season, sophomore Brooke Buringrud leads the team with 3.78 kills per game, 0.41 service aces per game, and is second on the team with 2.62 digs per game. Freshman Whitney Dosty posts 3.21 kills per game, and junior Dominique Lamb adds 2.57 kills per game, a .315 hitting percentage, and a team-best 1.56 blocks per game average. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard averages a team-high 3.67 digs per game.
As a team, Arizona is hitting .180 on the season, while limiting opponents to a .154 hitting percentage. Arizona also bests its opposition in every other team statistical category.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Washington State ?- The Washington State University Cougars (13-8, 1-6 Pac-10) enter Thursday’s matchup with Arizona dropping seven of their last eight matches, and suffering back-to-back sweeps to Oregon and Washington in their last two contests. The Cougs topped Oregon State for their first Pac-10 win of the season on Oct. 6. As a team, WSU hits .233 in 71 games, and averages 16.07 kills, 2.87 blocks, 17.82 digs, and 1.45 service aces per game. Individually, Senior Kelly Rosin is the team leader in hitting percentage (.304), and averages 3.66 kills per game. Sophomore Brittany Johnson leads the Cougars with a 4.06 kills per game average, and junior Adetokunbo Faleti adds 3.94 kills per game. The Cougars are second in the Pac-10 as a team with 17.82 digs per game.
Washington ?- The University of Washington Huskies (15-3, 5-2 Pac-10) enter this week at No. 6 in the national rankings. The defending national champions, winners of three-straight, take on Arizona State Thursday night before heading to Tucson on Friday. 14 of UW’s 15 wins this season have been of the sweep variety. As a team, Washington is No. 1 in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage with a .317 clip, a mark that is second in the nation. UW is also the Pac-10 leader with 16.08 assists per game, and is second in the conference in kills per game (16.98), and opponent hitting percentage (.140). Individually, the Huskies are led by sophomore Jessica Swarbrick, who is second in the Pac-10 with a .444 hitting percentage, and junior Alesha Deesing, who ranks third in the Pac-10 with a .435 hitting percentage. Junior Christal Morrison is third in the Pac-10 with a 4.57 kills per game average, and senior Courtney Thompson is the nation’s leader with 14.53 assists per game.
Washington State ?- Thursday’s match will be the 61st all-time meeting between the Cougs and the Cats. Arizona leads the series with WSU with a mark of 49-11. Arizona has won the last five-consecutive matches against the Cougars, last losing to WSU in 2003 in Pullman, Wash. Arizona has won 15 of the last 17 in the series, as Washington State has not beat Arizona in Tucson since 1995.
Washington ?- Friday’s matchup with No. 6 UW will mark the 45th meeting between the Wildcats and the Huskies. Arizona leads the all-time series 25-19, but has dropped six of the last seven matches to Washington, with the Wildcats only win during that span coming at home in 2003.
START HOW YOU FINISH:
Arizona started its Pac-10 schedule off on a slow note with a 0-5 record, but this is not unfamiliar territory for the Wildcat program. In fact, Arizona has found recent late-season success after slow starts to the Pac-10 season. In 2004, Arizona started Pac-10 play off at 0-4 before finishing 10-4 down the stretch. In 2003, the Wildcats started the conference slate with a 0-5 record before winning 11 of their final 13 Pac-10 matches, and in 2002, UA started 1-3 in the Pac-10 before closing the regular season with a 10-4 mark.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10 AND NCAA:
Junior Dominique Lamb ranks third in the Pac-10 and 19th nationally in blocks (1.56). Senior Stephanie Butkus is seventh in the conference in assists (11.35), while sophomore Brooke Buringrud is third in service aces (0.41). Freshman Jacy Norton is fifth in the conference and 26th nationally in blocks (1.48), and sophomore Brittany Leonard is ninth in the Pac-10 in digs (3.67 dpg).
Last week was a huge week for Arizona individual milestones. Against Oregon State, sophomore Brooke Buringrud tallied 13 kills in route to her 250th career kill, and posted four blocks for the 40th of her career. Senior Stephanie Butkus posted her 3,500th career assist against the Beavers and is now just 12 digs shy of 600. Freshman Whitney Dosty posted 10 kills against OSU on the way to the 200th kill in her career, while junior Katie Jackels notched her 275th career dig. Junior Dominique Lamb tallied the 300th block of her career, her 425th career kill, and is now 16 digs away from 100. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard now needs 3 digs for 600 in her career, and classmate Randy Goodenough posted the 100th kill in her career and is four blocks short of 50.
The Wildcats have steadily been moving up the leaderboard in blocks. Currently first among the Pac-10 Conference schools with a 3.36 BPG average, a figure that ranks 12th in the nation, the Wildcats have posted double-digit team stuffs in 13 of their last 14 matches. Arizona had a season-high 21 blocks against Arizona State on Sept. 22 and nearly matched that figure against No. 3-ranked UCLA when it finished with 20. In 19 matches played this year, UA has finished with 10 or more blocks 15 times.
Junior middle blocker Dominique Lamb is working her way up the block charts at UA. With 305 total stuffs, Lamb needs 19 more to move into a tie with former All-American Barb Bell for 10th all-time at Arizona, and her current career average of 1.24 blocks per game places her third in school history behind only Kelly Waage (1.43) and Stephanie Murry (1.26). Lamb’s 305 total blocks is currently third among all active Pac-10 players.
In just her third year playing volleyball, freshman outside hitter Whitney Dosty has demonstrated her athleticism in the young season as she is averaging 3.21 kills per game, second-best on the team. She had a career-high 18 kills in Arizona’s five-game loss to Northwestern on Sept. 16.
DYCK IN A NEW ROLE:
After spending the majority of last season as the starting setter for Arizona, junior Amy Dyck finds herself in a new position. The Sandpoint, Idaho, playing opposite, is averaging 1.48 digs and 1.48 kills a game. Against Tennessee Tech, Dyck posted career highs of 14 kills and 17 digs.
LEONARD AT LIBERO:
As a freshman last season, Brittany Leonard set the Arizona single season record for digs per game at 3.70. In 19 matches this year, the sophomore is averaging a team-best 3.67 digs per game.
NORTON AT THE NET:
With the loss of MB Kristina Baum for the year, the Wildcats will need someone to step up. True freshman Jacy Norton has made an early bid to be that player. In the 12 matches since Baum went down with her knee injury, Norton is averaging 1.51 blocks per game, 1.68 kills and is hitting at a .220 clip, numbers that are very similar to Baum’s prior to her injury (1.00 BPG, 1.59 KPG, .237 hitting percentage)
Arizona has dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season. Arizona has a long tradition in the top 25, having been listed in 120 of the last 132 polls, dating back to the 1998 season. The previous nine-week lapse occurred during the 2003 season.
Head Coach Dave Rubio boasts a 288-150 record (.658) in 15 seasons at the helm of the Wildcat program. Last year, he not only became the winningest coach in Arizona history, but he notched his 400th career victory in the team’s win over Ohio in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. In 20 years as a head coach, Rubio has a 410-216 (.655) record.
BUTKUS BECOMES FOURTH PLAYER TO REACH 3,000:
When she dished out her 3,000th career assist at Louisville on Sept. 2, senior Stephanie Butkus became just the fourth Wildcat ever to surpass the plateau. If she continues at her current pace, Butkus would finish her career with 3,987 assists, good for third place all-time behind assistant coach Dana Burkholder and Laura Bartsch. Butkus is currently third among active Pac-10 setters with 3,546 total assists, a figure that places her fourth all-time at Arizona. What’s more impressive about her numbers is the fact that she missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.
LAMB GOES 4-FOR-4 WITH ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS:
After going two years without being picked, junior Dominique Lamb went a perfect 4-for-4 this season on all-tournament team selections. In the first week of the season, during the Arizona Invitational, she averaged 2.20 kills, 1.60 blocks, 0.50 digs and 0.40 service aces over the three matches. At Louisville’s Courtyard by Marriott Airport East Classic, the middle blocker posted averages of 3.27 kills, 0.73 blocks and 0.45 service aces. At the Four Points Sheraton Wildcat Classic, Lamb averaged 2.91 kills and 2.09 blocks. Last weekend, at Northwestern’s Wildcat Classic, she hit a team-best .438 and averaged 2.92 kills and 1.33 blocks per game.
A BUMMER FOR BAUMER:
Senior middle blocker Kristina Baum will miss the remainder of the 2006 season after injuring her right knee in the first game of Arizona’s Sept. 8 match against Bradley. Baum, who will attempt to regain her senior year through either a redshirt season or a medical hardship, has racked up 610 career kills in 98 matches played at Arizona. She has hit .275 during her career and averaged 1.83 kills, 1.45 digs and 0.69 blocks per game.
BIG SHOES TO FILL:
With the graduation of all-time kills leader and three-time All-American Kim Glass, third-team All-American Jennifer Abernathy and four-time All-Pac-10 selection Bre Ladd, Arizona lost a considerable amount of not only its offense, but its defense, as well. The trio accounted for 71 percent of last year’s service aces, 70 percent of the kills and 46 percent of the team’s digs.
As always, Arizona faces a tough schedule this season. The Wildcats play 14 matches against nine teams that competed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats also face six teams (California, Louisville, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington) that were ranked in the Top 25 in the preseason AVCA/CSTV Coaches Poll. The Pac-10 schedule will again be difficult as the conference continues to show its dominance. Last year, six Pac-10 teams competed in the NCAA Tournament and all six advanced to the second round. Three teams advanced to the Sweet 16, two to the Elite Eight and Washington won the national championship.
With Washington capturing the NCAA title last season, the Pac-10 has now won five consecutive national championships (Washington in 2005, Stanford in 2004 and 2001, USC in 2003 and 2002), including the last three by three different teams. Pac-10 teams have claimed 13 of the sport’s 25 NCAA championships.
Arizona will remain at home next week when the Wildcats host No. 8 California on Friday, Oct. 27, and No. 3 Stanford on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.