Ahead This Week for UA Volleyball: UA begins the 2010 season in South Bend, Ind. in the Shamrock Invitational...Arizona will open the tournament against Cal Poly before taking on Marshall (Saturday) and the host Notre Dame on Sunday...Heading into the new season, the Wildcats return four starters including setter Paige Weber and outside hitters Whitney Dosty and Tiffany Owens. All three were Pac-10 Conference Honorable Mention selections in 2009. Along with nine returnees, the Cats also welcome in six newcomers including middle blocker Cursty Jackson who should start immediately for her new `mates...After starting last season off on a hot start, Arizona looks to take advantage by beginning well again in 2010.
In the rankings: In the AVCA's annual preseason poll, the Wildcats open the year slotted at No. 18 in the country. In the Pac-10 Conference, seven teams were ranked among the nation's top 25. While the Wildcats are flattered by being included in the rankings, head coach Dave Rubio doesn't put too much stock in the polls from week-to-week.
Scouting this week's opposition:
CAL POLY - The Mustangs return 10 letter-winners back to its 2010 team. Led by sixth year head coach Jon Stevenson, Cal Poly finished 2009 with a record of 9-20 and 5-11 in the Big West. Dominique Olowolafe is back for the `Stangs in `10...Olowolafe was an All-Big West First Team selection in `09.
MARSHALL - For the 2010 season, The Thundering Herd return a lineup featuring Elizabeth Fleming, an All Conference USA selection, and Elizabeth Herman for 2010. Last season, Marshall went 22-9 and 10-6 in Conference USA under head coach Mitch Jacobs who enters into his ninth season with The Herd.
NOTRE DAME - The Fighting Irish, picked third in the Big East preseason poll, are coming off a 2009 campaign in which it earned an NCAA Tournament berth and posted an overall record of 21-7. Led by head coach Debbie Brown, the Domers feature a youthful lineup for 2010 with nine underclassmen. Kristen Dealy and Kellie Sciacca look to lead the reigning Big East champs in 2010.
Series History and Last Head-to-Head:
Arizona vs. Cal Poly - In the all-time series against the Mustangs, Arizona has never beaten Cal Poly in five matches. It's been awhile though since these two matched up with the Mustangs topping UA in five sets in their last meeting in 1986.
Arizona vs. Marshall - The Wildcats have only faced The Herd on one other occasion in the history of the program. In 2001, Dave Rubio's Final Four team topped Marshall 3-0 in its second match for the historical UA team.
Arizona vs. Notre Dame - In three meetings with the Golden Domers, Arizona has a record of 1-2. In the last meeting between the programs, Arizona lost to ND in 2003 in the season opener.
Head Coach Dave Rubio ...is in his 19th season as head coach of Arizona. In that time span, Rubio has a record of 340-200. Rubio also boasts a career record of 462-266 in 24 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. Rubio is assisted by associate head coach Steve Walker, assistant coach Allison Napier and volunteer coach Melissa Ohta.
Active Wins Leader in the Pac: Coach Rubio, in his 19th season with the Wildcats, is the active leader in Conference wins with 340. The "dean" of Pac-10 head coaches, Rubio's been at the helm of UA seven years longer than the second longest tenured coach (Cal's Rich Feller).
Rubio also owns a conference winning percentage of .630 in the always tough Pac-10 and has guided the Cats to 13 NCAA appearances.
Tucson's Girl: Outside Hitter Whitney Dosty, who grew up in Tucson and is wildly popular with all the Wildcat fans, looks to finally have her banner season. In 2009, Dosty posted number of 269 total kills, a hitting percentage of .200 and 50 total blocks. While hampered by a hand injury early on in the season, Dosty found her stride in the latter half of the season with a much improved attack percentage. Look for her to shine in 2010.
COBRA Magazine Preseason All-Americans: Tiffany Owens was named to this season's COBRA Magazine National Player of the Year Watch List. Owens in 2009 paced the Cats to a team-leading 414 kills and was second in digs with 349. Also garnering praise from COBRA was hitter Whitney Dosty who was named to the publication's All-American Preseason Second-Team list.
Watch TO's Double-Double's: One particular stat on note during the 2009 season was Tiffany Owens' double-doubles. When Owens amassed double-digit kills and digs, the Wildcats usually had success. Let's see if that stat holds true in 2010.
Karst Getting The Minutes: Courtney Karst looks to weigh heavily on the Wildcats' success in 2010. An outside hitter out of Aurora, Colo., Karst will be a mainstay in the lineup after putting up 310 kills in 2009. On the defensive end, No. 23 also chipped in with 34 blocks.
Action Jackson: Cursty Jackson is one of six newcomers for the Wildcats in 2010. A transfer from UNLV by way of Los Angeles, Jackson attacks with force and great leaping ability. In the Red-Blue scrimmage, Jackson had 19 blocks and five blocks. Look for Jackson to be one of UA's top point scorers in 2010.
Charting the Pac-10 Ranks: On the Pac-10 active career leaders list, three Wildcats are spotlighted in multiple categories. In terms of kills, Tiffany Owens is third on the career leaders chart with 1,112 kills over her three years. Whitney Dosty is fifth on that same list with 919 total kills.
For digs, Owens fifth among all conference players with 772 while Paige Weber ranks in seventh with 622 career digs. On the assists charts, Weber is third in the conference with 3,633 assists, trailing only Cal's Carli Lloyd and Washington's Jenna Hagglund. Other categories which the trio appear include blocks (Dosty, ninth with 182; Weber, 10th, with 170) and service aces (Weber, second, with 96 aces)
Quite the Streak: Paige Weber has put together quite an impressive streak. Weber has played in every set of her Wildcat career. That amounts to 324 consecutive sets over three years. The Wildcats will look to Weber's durability again this season to take them to the postseason. With 3,633 total assists, she also ranks second on the all-time UA list behind only Dana Burkholder.
A Few New Faces: In 2010, Arizona Volleyball welcomes in six newcomers to the line-up. Freshman middle blockers Madeline Lozano and Tarryn Luafalemana will contend for immediate playing time along the front row while freshmen liberos Candace Nicholson and Emily Helm look to provide defensive depth. Transfers Cursty Jackson (previously mentioned) and Marketa Hanzlova are also new on the roster for Arizona.
Pac-10 Preseason Poll: In this year's Pac-10 Coaches Poll, Arizona was slated to finish fourth overall behind Stanford (1), Washington (2) and USC (3). It's the Wildcats highest poll position since the 2005 season. Seven Conference teams are ranked among the nation's top 25.
Up Next: Arizona returns home next weekend for its first home tournament, The Wildcat Classic by Marriott University Park. The Wildcats will go up against Butler, Louisville and Cal State Bakersfield in the two-day tournament.