The Arizona volleyball team (9-6, 0-3 Pac-10) will host the top two rated teams in the Pac-10 this weekend. No. 3 UCLA comes to McKale Center on Friday for a 7 p.m. match, followed by fourth-ranked USC at the same time on Saturday. Only No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Penn State are ranked higher than the duo from LA.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The Wildcats dropped both matches last weekend on their first conference road trip of the season. UA fell 3-0 at Stanford on Friday and then dropped a four-game match, 3-1, to Cal on Saturday. .
On the season, Arizona is led by sophomore Brooke Buringrud, who averages 3.71 kills, 2.49 digs and 0.40 service aces per game. Freshman Whitney Dosty adds 3.16 kills per game, while Dominique Lamb chips in with a team-leading 1.49 blocks per game average and a .332 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard averages a team-best 3.40 digs per game.
As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .185 on the season, compared to the .152 of their opponents. Arizona also betters its opposition in every other statistical category.
A PRETTY TOUGH STRETCH:
When you play in the Pac-10, you’re pretty much assured of meeting at least one ranked team every weekend of conference play. For the Wildcats, last week and the upcoming week arguably could be the toughest stretch of four matches in school history. Having already faced No. 6 Stanford and No. 7 Cal, UA is tasked with facing 17-0 and No. 3-ranked UCLA, and 15-0 and No. 4 USC this weekend. Since Dave Rubio took over the program in 1992, the Wildcats have faced four straight ranked opponents 10 times, including five straight last season, but never against a fearsome foursome with an average ranking of No. 5.
2001 * #25 Colorado St.
#9 Ohio St.
#21 Illinois #24 Wash. St.
#12 Wash. St.
#12 Pacific #20 Wash.
#5 USC #2 Stanford
#22 Wash. St.
#22 Wash. St.
#1 Long Beach St. AVG - 17.75
AVG - 10.5
AVG - 13.5
AVG - 11.5
AVG - 9.75 2003
2005 #4 Stanford
#18 Cal #9 Cal
#4 Stanford # 8 UCLA
#14 USC #1 USC
#16 UCLA AVG - 5.5
AVG - 5.5
AVG - 10.25
AVG - 13 AVG - 11.6
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
UCLA - The Bruins (17-0, 4-0) have opened the 2006 season with 17 consecutive wins, including 12 three-game sweeps. Most recently, UCLA upended defending national champion Washington 3-2 and travel partner Washington State 3-1 in Westwood last week. The Bruins have faced three schools in the top 10 (No. 5 Florida, No. 7 Hawaii and No. 4 Washington), and have obviously defeated all of them. As a team, the Bruins are hitting .279 in 57 games played, and are averaging 17.32 kills, 1.33 aces, 16.28 digs and 3.18 blocks per game. Individually, do-everything Nana Meriwether paces the club with a 4.15 KPG average while hitting at an astounding .537 clip. She also leads the club with 1.77 blocks per game.
USC - Similar to their travel partners, the Women of Troy are a perfect 15-0 on the year and have won eight of their matches via the three-game sweep. USC has played three ranked teams (No. 20 Pepperdine, #14 Purdue and No. 4), and have emerged unscathed each time. As a club, SC boasts a .276 hitting percentage and averages of 16.07 kills, 1.54 aces, 16.93 digs and 3.38 blocks per game. Individually, Asia Kaczor leads USC with a 4.46 KPG average on .315 hitting. Teammate Taylor Carico is hitting a team-best .365 in 54 games played and Bethany Johnson averages 1.39 BPG.
UCLA - Friday’s match will mark the 62nd all-time meeting between the Bruins and the Wildcats. UCLA holds a 43-17-1 advantage since the first meeting in 1977, but the Wildcats have enjoyed a recent string of success, winning eight of the last nine matches between the two. Dating back to October 2001, Arizona’s lone loss to UCLA was a four-game defeat on Oct. 1, 2004. Arizona is 7-13 all-time against UCLA in Tucson since Pac-10 play began in 1986.
USC - Saturday’s match will mark the 60th all-time meeting between USC and Arizona. The Women of Troy own a 44-15 record against the Wildcats since 1977, but UA snapped a seven-match losing streak with a five-game win last season in Tucson. Arizona is 9-11 against USC in Tucson since Pac-10 play began in 1986.
ARIZONA VS. THE PAC-10 IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM:
The Wildcats have played pretty well against Pac-10 opponents early into the 21st century. Since 2000, when Arizona shared the Pac-10 title with USC, UA has posted a 75-36 record (.688) against the rival schools from the top conference in the nation. Only USC (97-15) and Stanford (88-24) have posted more wins in Pac-10 play than Arizona over the last six-plus years. In McKale Center, the Wildcats have put together a 41-13 home record (.759) against conference opponents since the turn of the millennium. UA is averaging 12.5 victories per year in the 2000s and have posted 10 or more victories all six seasons.
A BUMMER FOR BAUMER:
Senior middle blocker Kristina Baum is expected to 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.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10:
Junior Dominique Lamb ranks third in the Pac-10 in blocks (1.49) and 10th in hitting percentage (.332). Senior Stephanie Butkus is seventh in assists (11.00), while sophomore Brooke Buringrud is fourth in service aces (0.40). Freshman Jacy Norton is fifth in the conference in blocks (1.39 bpg) and sophomore Brittany Leonard is 10th in digs (3.40 dpg). As a team, the Wildcats are fourth in the Pac-10 in blocks (3.17) and third in service aces (1.71).
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.
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 3,313 total assists. 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 3.16 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 1.70 digs and 1.62 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 15 matches this year, the sophomore is averaging 3.40 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 eight matches since Baum went down with her knee injury, Norton is averaging 1.39 blocks per game, 1.50 kills and is hitting at a .250 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 131 polls, dating back to the 1998 season. The previous nine-week lapse occurred during the 2003 season.
Head Coach Dave Rubio boasts a 287-147 record (.664) 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 409-213 (.660) record.
Sophomore Brooke Buringrud is 13 kills shy of 225 for her career and needs three more aces for 25. Senior Stephanie Butkus is two kills away from 200 and 42 digs shy of 600. Freshman Whitney Dosty is 26 kills south of 200 early in her career, while junior Katie Jackels is 12 digs shy of 250. Junior Dominique Lamb is 19 blocks away from 300 on her career, one dig away from 75 and eight kills away from 400. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard needs 15 digs for 550 in her career, and classmate Randy Goodenough is three kills away from 75 in her career and 18 blocks short of 50.
Sophomore Brooke Buringrud recorded her 20th career service ace at Northwestern. Senior Stephanie Butkus went over 500 career digs at the Northwestern tournament. Junior Amy Dyck tallied her 75th career block against Northwestern. Junior Dominique Lamb’s final kill against Northwestern gave her 375 in the three-year career. Sophomore Brittany Leonard went over the 500 mark for career digs last weekend against Arizona 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.