After playing four of the top seven teams in the AVCA Coaches Poll the past two weeks, the Arizona volleyball team (9-8, 0-5 Pac-10) will head out to the Pacific Northwest this week to take on a pair of unranked schools, Oregon State (3-11, 0-5 Pac-10) in Corvallis on Thursday and Oregon (12-3, 2-3 Pac-10) in Eugene on Friday. The trip marks UA’s second conference road series of the season.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
The Wildcats dropped both conference matches at home last weekend, falling 3-1 to No. 3 UCLA on Friday and 3-0 to No. 4 USC on Saturday. The loses extended UA’s losing streak to six straight matches.
On the season, Arizona is led by sophomore Brooke Buringrud, who averages 3.76 kills, 2.50 digs and 0.40 service aces per game. Freshman Whitney Dosty adds 3.15 kills per game, while Dominique Lamb chips in with a team-leading 1.55 blocks per game average and a .314 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard averages a team-best 3.55 digs per game.
As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .178 on the season, compared to the .152 of their opponents. Arizona also betters its opposition in every other statistical category.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Oregon State - The Beavers (3-11, 0-5 Pac-10) enter the week of play mired in a five-match losing streak, dropping contests to UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington State and Washington. It is OSU’s second extended winless streak, having lost six straight earlier in the season. As a team, the Beavers are hitting .185 in 53 games played and are averaging 13.58 kills per game, 2.56 blocks, 1.08 aces and 14.81 digs. Individually, Rachel Rourke paces the Beavers by averaging 4.35 kills per game while hitting at a team-best .271 clip. Rouke is currently fifth in the conference in KPG. OSU employs a pair of setters for its matches, calling on Camilla Ah-Hoy, who is 10th in the Pac-10 with a 7.38 APG average, and Ashley Evans, who is averaging 4.10 assists per game. Lexie Rathgeber is the Beavers’ enforcer at the net, averaging a team-high 1.04 blocks per game.
Oregon - The Ducks got off to a great start in 2006, racing out to a 11-0 record, but have dropped three of their last four matches. Despite the recent down tick, Oregon has played well, forcing then-No. 7 USC to five games and losing in four games to No. 5 Washington. UO is currently among the schools receiving votes in the AVCA weekly poll. As a team, the Ducks are hitting .225 for the year and limiting the opposition to a Pac-10-best .118 attack percentage. Oregon leads the Pac-10 in service aces, 1.89 per game, and is averaging 14.95 kills, 3.08 blocks and 14.89 digs per game this season. Individually, the Ducks feature a balanced attack with three players averaging three or more kills per game. Mira Djuric leads the team with a 3.41 KPG, but is followed closely by teammates Erin Little (3.09 KPG) and Sonja Newcombe (3.04 KPG). Djuric leads the Pac-10 in service aces, averaging 0.66 aces per game. Karen Waddington, who has not played enough games to qualify for the Pac-10 leaders, averages 1.59 blocks per game, a figure that would place her third in the league.
Oregon State - Thursday match will be 42nd all-time meeting between Arizona and Oregon State. The Wildcats currently enjoy a 31-10 lead in the all-time series and have won the last 19-straight matches between the two. Arizona is 24-4 against Oregon State since 1992 when Dave Rubio took over as head coach.
Oregon - Friday’s match will mark the 44th all-time meeting between Arizona and Oregon. The Wildcats are 35-8 (.813) all-time against Oregon, marking the second-best winning percentage for the Wildcats against any of the other nine Pac-10 Conference schools (Arizona owns a .817 winning percentage against Washington State). UA has won 14-straight matches against the Ducks. Since 1992, when Dave Rubio took over as head coach at Arizona, the Wildcats are 26-2 against the Ducks.
DOING THE STREAK
Arizona’s 19-match winning streak against Oregon State is the longest for the Wildcats against any of the Pac-10 schools. UA last lost to OSU on Sept. 27, 1996. Since then, Arizona has swept Oregon State 12 times, gone four games five times and has been pushed to five games two times in extending the streak. While not quite as long, the Wildcats’ 14-match winning streak over the Ducks is the second-longest active streak for UA vs. a conference opponent. The last time Arizona fell to Oregon was on Oct. 30, 1998, in five games. Since then, UA has swept UO 10 times and won in four games four times.
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.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10 AND NCAA:
Junior Dominique Lamb ranks third in the Pac-10 and 19th nationally in blocks (1.55). Senior Stephanie Butkus is seventh in the conference in assists (11.05), while sophomore Brooke Buringrud is third in service aces (0.40). Freshman Jacy Norton is fourth in the conference and 26th nationally in blocks (1.50bpg), and sophomore Brittany Leonard is ninth in the Pac-10 in digs (3.55 dpg).
The Wildcats have steadily been moving up the leaderboard in blocks. Currently second among the Pac-10 Conference schools with a 3.31 BPG average, a figure that ranks 12th in the nation, the Wildcats have posted double-digit team stuffs in 11 of their last 12 matches. Arizona had a season-high 21 blocks against Arizona State on Sept. 22 and nearly matched that figure last weekend against No. 3-ranked UCLA when it finished with 20. In 17 matches played this year, UA has finished with 10 or more blocks 13 times.
Junior middle blocker Dominique Lamb is working her way up the block charts at UA. With 295 total stuffs, D needs 29 more to move into a tie with former All-American Barb Bell for 10th all-time at Arizona, and her current career average of 1.23 blocks per game places her third in school history behind only Kelly Waage (1.43) and Stephanie Murry (1.26). Lamb’s 295 total blocks is currently third among all active Pac-10 players.
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 3,460 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.
In just her third year playing volleyball, freshman outside hitter Whitney Dosty has demonstrated her athleticism in the young season as she is averaging 3.15 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 1.55 digs and 1.48 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 17 matches this year, the sophomore is averaging 3.55digs 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 10 matches since Baum went down with her knee injury, Norton is averaging 1.54 blocks per game, 1.54 kills and is hitting at a .191 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 287-149 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 409-215 (.655) record.
Sophomore Brooke Buringrud is nine kills shy of 250 for her career and needs three more blocks for 40. Senior Stephanie Butkus is 40 assists away from 3,500 and is 25 digs shy of 600. Freshman Whitney Dosty is five kills south of 200 early in her career, while junior Katie Jackels is 18 digs shy of 275 . Junior Dominique Lamb is five blocks away from 300 on her career, 21 digs away from 100 and 17 kills away from 425. Sophomore libero Brittany Leonard needs 32 digs for 600 in her career, and classmate Randy Goodenough is 11 kills away from 100 in her career and five blocks short of 50.
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.