The No. 24 Arizona volleyball team (7-2) closes out non-conference play with three matches at the Northwestern Wildcat Classic this Friday-Saturday, Sept. 15-16. The Wildcats face Pittsburgh (9-2) at noon (CDT) Friday, followed by a 4:30 p.m. match against Eastern Illinois (5-2). On Saturday, Arizona faces Northwestern (3-3) at 7 p.m. (CDT).
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The Wildcats were one of three teams to post a 2-1 record at the Four Points Sheraton Wildcat Classic last weekend. Arizona swept Bradley (30-28, 30-24, 30-28) and Montana State (30-21, 30-21, 30-18) on Friday, before falling in five games (28-30, 30-22, 23-30, 30-17, 13-15) to Rice on Saturday. Junior Dominique Lamb, sophomore Brooke Buringrud and freshman Whitney Dosty were named to the all-tournament team. Lamb averaged 2.91 kills and 2.09 blocks, while Buringrud posted averages of 3.45 kills, 3.45 digs and 1.00 blocks over the three matches. Dosty averaged a team-best 3.55 kills per game.
On the season, Arizona is led by Buringrud, who averages 3.59 kills, 2.84 digs and 0.47 service aces per game. Dosty adds 3.41 kills, while Lamb leads the team with a 1.47 blocks average. Junior libero Brittany Leonard averages a team-best 3.47 digs per game.
As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .210 on the season, compared to the .129 of their opponents. Arizona also betters its opponents in every other statistical category.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Pittsburgh - The Panthers (9-2) went 1-2 to finish third in their own Pittsburgh Invitational last weekend, defeating Lehigh (30-13, 30-26, 30-18) and falling to Tennessee (30-28, 23-30, 27-30, 19-30) and Marshall (23-30,16-30, 22-30). Freshman Michelle Rossi was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 3.00 digs per game over the three matches.
As a team, Pittsburgh is hitting .251 on the season, compared to the .153 of its opponents. The team also leads its opponents in every other statistical category.
Eastern Illinois - The Panthers (5-2) finished in second place at the Western Illinois Pizza Hut Invitational last weekend with wins over DePaul (30-13, 30-26, 31-29) and Butler (30-24, 30-14, 25-30, 30-19), and a loss to Western Illinois (13-30, 24-30, 30-21, 25-30). Setter Maren Crabtree and junior outside hitter Eliza Zwettler were named to the all-tournament team. Crabtree averaged 10.8 assists and 3.4 digs, while Zwettler posted averages of 4.6 kills, 3.7 digs and 0.6 service aces per game.
As a team, Eastern Illinois leads its opponents in nearly every statistical category - kills (15.2 to 11.8), hitting percentage (.214 to .192), assists (13.9 to 10.6), service aces (2.8 to 1.7) and digs (16.9 to 14.8). The Panthers trail their opponents in blocks (1.4 to 1.9).
Northwestern - The Wildcats (3-3) went 1-2 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Volleyball Challenge last weekend. Northwestern fell to No. 8 Stanford (27-30, 27-30, 17-30) and No. 9 Hawaii (31-29, 27-30, 30-32, 30-32) before defeating Fairfield (30-27, 30-22, 30-25). Freshman libero Kate Nobilio was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 5.70 digs per game.
As a team, Northwestern is out-hitting its opponents .236 to .179, out-digging them 17.24 to 16.81 and out-blocking them 3.05 to 2.26.
Pittsburgh - Arizona is 2-3 all-time vs. the Panthers. The two teams last met on Oct. 17, 1998, with the Wildcats winning 3-0 in Tucson. Arizona is 1-1 at home, 0-1 away and 1-1 at a neutral site vs. Pittsburgh.
Eastern Illinois - Arizona is 1-0 all-time vs. the Panthers, having defeated them 3-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournanemt in Champaign, Ill., on Nov. 30, 2001.
Northwestern - Arizona leads the all-time series with the Wildcats 2-0. In the two teams’ last meeting on Sept. 3, 2005, Arizona won 3-0 in Tucson. Arizona is 1-0 at home and 1-0 at a neutral site vs. Northwestern.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10:
Junior Dominique Lamb ranks third in the Pac-10 in blocks (1.47), fifth in hitting percentage (.392) and ninth in service aces (0.38). Senior Stephanie Butkus is sixth in assists (11.38), while sophomore Brooke Buringrud is third in service aces (0.47). Sophomore Brittany Leonard is 10th in digs (3.47).
LAMB AND ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS:
After going two years without being picked, junior Dominique Lamb is a perfect 3-for-3 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. Last week, Lamb averaged 2.91 kills and 2.09 blocks.
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. What’s more impressive about her numbers is the fact that she missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.
In just her third year playing volleyball, freshman outside hitter Whitney Dosty has demonstrated her athleticism in the young season as she is averaging 3.41 kills per game, second-best on the team. She had a career-high 17 kills in Arizona’s upset of Louisville on Sept. 2.
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 1.81 digs and 1.77 kills. 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 three matches this year, the sophomore is averaging 3.47 digs per game.
Arizona has been ranked in the Top 25 in 120 of the last 129 polls, dating back to the 1998 season. The nine-week lapse occurred during the 2003 season.
Head Coach Dave Rubio boasts a 285-143 record (.669) 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 407-209 (.661) record.
Senior Kristina Baum is 17 digs away from 500, while sophomore Brooke Buringrud is eight digs shy of 100. Senior Stephanie Butkus is 10 kills away from 200 and three digs shy of 500. Junior Amy Dyck is six assists away from 1,400 on her career, while junior Katie Jackels is 13 digs shy of 200. Junior Dominique Lamb is four blocks away from 250 on her career.
Senior Stephanie Butkus recorded her 150th career block, while freshman Whitney Dosty notched her 100th kill and 300 attempt last Saturday vs. Rice. Junior Amy Dyck recorded her 250th career dig against Rice, while sophomore Brooke Buringrud recorded her 100th kill vs. Montana State.
PAC-10 ACTIVE LEADERS:
Senior Kristina Baum ranks fifth among active players in the Pac-10 in blocks, and seventh in both kills and service aces. Senior Stephanie Butkus is third in assists, while junior Amy Dyck ranks seventh.
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. What’s more, Pac-10 teams have claimed 13 of the sport’s 25 NCAA championships.
RECRUITING CLASS RANKED FOURTH:
Arizona’s 2006 freshman class was selected as the fourth-best in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. The group is comprised of seven players - Jayme Allen (San Diego, Calif.), Kara Bauman (Tucson, Ariz.), Whitney Dosty (Tucson, Ariz.), Ashley Hamilton (Alpine, Utah), Makenzie Mullin (Overland Park, Kan.), Jacy Norton (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Alanna Resch (Solana Beach, Calif.) - and will attempt to fill the holes left by the departure of a class that four years ago was rated No. 1 nationally.
Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 in a preseason vote of the league’s 10 head coaches, receiving 48 points. Stanford and UCLA, both of which Arizona swept last season, were picked to finish first and second, respectively. The Cardinal received eight first-place votes and 89 total points, while the Bruins tallied two first-place votes and 79 points. Defending national champion Washington was picked to finish third with 76 points. California and USC followed in fourth and fifth place with 64 and 62 points, respectively. Rounding out the poll were Oregon State (41), Oregon (32), Arizona State (30) and Washington State (19). The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 10 of the previous 17 polls. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
Arizona opens Pac-10 play at home with a 7 p.m. match vs. Arizona State next Friday, Sept. 22, in McKale.