THIS WEEK: The No. 14 Arizona volleyball team (8-2) opens Pacific-10 play with matches at No. 12 Stanford (7-2) and No. 16 California (5-3). The Wildcats face the Cardinal at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, followed by a 7 p.m. match Friday, Sept. 24, against the Bears.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: The Wildcats (8-2) went 3-0 with sweeps over host American (30-22, 30-24, 30-23) and Temple (30-25, 31-29, 30-23) and a 3-1 victory over Albany (30-20, 30-18, 26-30, 30-28) en route to the championship of the American Class last weekend. Sophomore Stephanie Butkus was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 12.20 assists, 1.60 kills on .600 hitting , 1.40 blocks and 1.30 digs over the three matches. Junior Jennifer Abernathy and sophomore Kristina Baum were also named to the all-tournament team.
On the season, Arizona is led by Abernathy, who averages 4.53 kills and 2.44 digs per game. Sophomore Meghan Cumpston adds 4.52 kills and a team-high 2.88 digs per game. Butkus is averaging 12.17 assists per game, while freshman Dominique Lamb leads the team in blocking with a 1.21 average.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Stanford -The Cardinal (7-2) defeated Western Kentucky (18-30, 30-25, 30-18, 30-15), Villanova (30-21, 30-23, 32-30) and Northwestern (30-17, 30-23, 30-18) to claim the championship of the Wildcat Classic in Evanston, Ill., last weekend. Senior Ogonna Nnamani was named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 6.20 kills, 1.20 digs and 1.00 blocks per game while hitting .533 on 107 attacks. She was named MVP of the tournament, while Kristin Richards and Jennifer Hucke were also named to the all-tournament team.
Stanford is led this season by Nnamani, who averages 5.20 kills, 2.00 digs and 0.71 blocks per game. Setter Bryn Kehoe averages 12.00 assists and 2.82 digs per game, while Richards boasts 4.03 kills, 3.80 digs and 0.74 blocks per game averages.
Cal - The Golden Bears (5-3) placed second at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Volleyball Invitational last weekend, posting a 1-1 record. Cal fell to Hawaii (20-30, 32-34, 26-30) on Friday, but rebounded with a sweep (30-24, 30-23, 30-27) of UC Irvine on Sunday, snapping a three-match losing streak. Freshman Angie Pressey and senior Camille Leffall were named to the all-tournament team.
On the season, Cal is paced by Pressey, who averages 4.47 kills and 2.41 digs per game. Gabrielle Abernathy adds 3.46 kills and 1.67 digs per game, while Samantha Carter has a 14.12 assists per game average. Libero Jillian Davis averages a Pac-10 best 5.50 digs per game.
Stanford -Arizona is 5-43 all-time against the Cardinal. The last time the two teams met, on Oct. 30, 2003, the Wildcats fell 3-1 in Palo Alto, Calif. Arizona is 3-18 at home, 1-24 away and 1-1 at a neutral site vs. the Cardinal.
Cal- Arizona is 30-8 all-time vs. the Golden Bears. The two teams last faced each other last Halloween, with the Wildcats sweeping in Berkeley. Arizona is 14-5 at home, 15-3 away and 1-0 at a neutral site vs. Cal.
POLL FACTS: Arizona has been ranked in the Top 25 in 91 of the last 100 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Polls. The nine-week lapse occurred last year.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Junior Jennifer Abernathy leads the Wildcats with five double-doubles this season, while sophomores Stephanie Butkus and Meghan Cumpston have three apiece. Junior Bre Ladd has one.
REACHING MILESTONES: Junior Jennifer Abernathy served up her 50th career service ace vs. Albany. Middle blocker Kristina Baum recorded her 100th career block and her 200th career dig vs. Albany last Saturday. Against American, sophomore Stephanie Butkus moved into seventh place all-time at Arizona with 1,695 career assists. She also recorded her 75th career block vs. Temple. Senior Cassidy Crum recorded her 300th career dig vs. American. Senior Jolene Killough notched her 200th career block vs. Albany. Senior Kelli Mulvany reached 50 career assists at American.
CLOSING IN: Junior Jennifer Abernathy is 28 kills away from 600 and 32 digs away from 400 on her career. Setter Stephanie Butkus needs five assists to reach 1,700 on her career. Sophomore Meghan Cumpston is one kill away from 175 and two digs away from 100 on her career. Senior Jolene Killough needs eight kills to have 350 on her career. Junior Bre Ladd is seven kills away from 700 and nine digs away from 200 on her career. Senior Kelli Mulvany is 67 digs shy of 1,000 on her career.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10: Junior Jennifer Abernathy ranks third in the Pac-10 in kills per game, while sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus ranks fourth in assists per game. Sophomore Meghan Cumpston is fifth in kills per game, while sophomore Kristina Baum ranks fifth in hitting percentage. Senior Jolene Killough is sixth in hitting percentage and freshman Dominique Lamb is seventh in blocks per game.
FAMILY SHOWDOWN: When Arizona hits the court against Cal on Friday, it won’t just be school pride but also family bragging rights on the line for junior Jennifer Abernathy, as her older sister, Gabrielle, plays for the Golden Bears. In the four meetings of the two teams since Jennifer has been a Wildcat, the two schools are knotted at two wins apiece.
GLASS BACK IN THE LINEUP: Junior outside hitter Kim Glass returned to practice today after missing the first three weeks of the season with a shoulder injury. The two-time All-American has led Arizona in kills in each of the last two years.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sophomore Meghan Cumpston, who missed last weekend’s tournament due to severe headaches, nausea and fatigue, will travel with the team to northern California. The outside hitter led the Wildcats during the first two weeks of the season in Glass’ absence.
RUBIO APPROACHING ARIZONA WINS RECORD: Head Coach David Rubio currently has 242 wins in his 13 seasons at the helm. He needs just 17 more to become the winningest coach in Arizona volleyball history. Rosie Wegrich, who coached from 1977-1991, compiled 258 wins in 15 seasons for an average of 17 per year.
QUOTING HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO: "It’s always a challenge playing on the road in our conference. However, it’s especially difficult when you open at Stanford and Cal. We look forward to the challenges it presents."
NEXT UP: Arizona hosts No. 10 UCLA at 7 p.m. next Friday, Oct. 1, and No. 2 USC at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2.