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Wildcats Trek to Pacific Northwest
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 10/21/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 21, 2010

No. 25 Arizona (3-4, 14-6) at No. 7 Washington (4-3 , 15-3)

7 p.m. MST | Hec Ed Pavilion | Seattle, Wash.

 

No. 25 Arizona (3-4, 14-6) at Washington State (0-7, 6-11)

7 p.m. MST | Bohler Gym | Pullman, Wash.

 

Ahead This Week for UA Volleyball: The Wildcats take to the road this week to face No. 7 Washington and Washington State in a couple crucial Pac-10 matches.  Currently in the conference standings, six teams are within one win of each other and for the second consecutive week, seven teams are in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Typically the toughest Pac-10 road trip of the season, Arizona will face the Huskies Friday night before heading off to Pullman first thing Saturday morning for their date with the Cougars Saturday night. The Top 10 ranked Huskies field a solid team as usual, led by outside hitter Bianca Rowland and Kindra Carlson.  Washington State is winless in conference play at 0-7, but took a set off Cal last week and has been playing competitive of late.

 

Stay Connected: There are many mediums for you to stay connected with Arizona Volleyball...First and foremost, check out recaps, schedules, releases, GameTracker and general updates at ArizonaWildcats.com...If you want more in depth news straight from the coaching staff, check out the Arizona Volleyball twitter feed at twitter.com/arizonavball...Additionally, all home matches will be streamed live through UA's Comcast All-Access player...And lest we forget about the Arizona Athletics Facebook page, check us out over the world's largest social network through either the general Arizona Athletics page or sport specific page.

 

Last week:  The Pac-10 conference volleyball season is always filled with peaks and valleys and last week was no difference.  Coming off a two-win road trip, UA returned home with the league's longest winning streak and momentum in its favor.  That changed quickly though as Arizona couldn't close out UCLA in a five set match, and lost 16-14 in the final game.  Knowing it had let a valuable opportunity slip away against a Top 10 team at home, the Wildcats focused on putting the night behind them and prepared for No. 5 USC.  Against the Trojans, it was another typical crazy conference match, necessitating five sets before the Trojans won in deuce, 18-16.  While UA is not for moral victories, it must look to the experience as a way to learn and get better for the second half of the season.

 

In the rankings:  The Cats find themselves ranked for the second consecutive week at No. 25 overall in the AVCA national poll.  Seven teams are ranked in the Pac-10 led by No. 2 Stanford.  UA's Friday night opponent, Washington, is ranked seventh in the country. Additionally, it's the five week Arizona's been ranked this season including the preseason poll.

 

Head Coach Dave Rubio ...is in his 19th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 354-206. Rubio also boasts a career record of 476-272 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 is the active leader in Conference wins with 354.  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 .634 in the always tough Pac-10 and has guided the Cats to 13 NCAA appearances.

 

Road Win Streak:  For the past few seasons, one of UA's hindrances was winning conference matches on the road.  It's always a tough task, especially in the Pac-10, playing in front of crowds who are rooting for the opposite team, but the Cats have been able to overcome other team's best effort thus far and are unbeaten on the road. With non-conference matches included, the Wildcats are 5-0 when playing in someone else's building.  The road matches at the Oregon schools and a win or two this weekend will especially go a long way when it comes time for possible NCAA at-large bids.

 

Looking to Snap Some Streaks:

With Washington's ascension to a Pac-10 power over the last eight years, the UA-UW series has taken on quite a one-sided affair with the Huskies owning a 12-set win streak over the Wildcats dating back to 2003.  Additionally, Arizona has not won on Hec Ed court since 2002. Even with those streaks, the all-time series between the two teams stands at 27-24 in favor of UW.

 

Chart the Hitting Percentage: If you were to focus on only of one the multitude of stats in predicting whether Arizona will be victorious on the evening, look to the hitting percentage.  This season in matches where UA has had the higher percentage, the Cats are a perfect 14-0.  In cases where they trail their opponents in overall hitting percentage, Arizona is 0-6.  Now while this stat is sort of like former football analyst John Madden's "whichever team scores the most points wins", it remains an interesting note nonetheless.

 

Watch Her Double-Double's: One stat of note during the 2009 season was Tiffany Owens' double-doubles.  When Owens amassed double-digit kills and digs, the Wildcats usually had success.  Currently, Owens has 10 double-double performances, including seven in her last eight matches. On top of her double-double stat, Owens has put up 20 or more kills in her last five matches.

 

Lucky Number 13: The Wildcats' Cursty Jackson is proving to be a threat on both the offensive and defensive ends in 2010. A transfer from UNLV and originally from Los Angeles, has been Arizona's top middle through 20 matches this season.  Against the then-13th ranked Ducks, Jackson recorded a season-high 10 block assists in helping Arizona upset Oregon. Additionally, in Pac-10 conference matches, Jackson has the second best hitting percentage with a .385 clip.  Her blocking and scoring ability will be a major asset if UA hopes to get a few wins on the road again this weekend.

 

Nicholson Solidifies Starting Gig: Freshman libero Candace Nicholson has gone from a back-up situational player to the Wildcats' starting libero after recording double-digit digs in UA's last four matches.  It isn't just numbers either for the Long Beach, Calif. native as she has provided a defensive presence against some of the better teams in the country while also growing more accustomed to the speed of college volleyball. Nicholson is second on the team currently with 202 digs.

 

Acquiring Some Help:  UA was helped two weekends ago with Tarryn Luafalemana and Kaylen Bannister returning off the proverbial DL. Both players will look to factor in at the middle blocker position.  Luafalemana worked in sparingly against Cal and Stanford, but look for Bannister, UA's most defensive and physical blocker, to continue working her way back into the lineup after sitting out training camp and the start of the season due to birthing a son in August.

 

Quite the Streak: Paige Weber has put together quite an impressive streak, playing in every set of her Wildcat career.  That amounts to 403 consecutive sets played over three plus seasons.  The Wildcats will look to Weber's durability again this season to take them to the postseason. Her active streak is currently third on the UA all-time consecutive sets played list.  It isn't just being in the lineup either for Weber as she posted a season-high 64 assists in UA's win over Oregon State two weeks ago.  Currently in conference matches, Weber is third among Pac-10 setters with 11.25 a/s.

 

Digs Leader:  Tiffany Owens gets most of her praise on the offensive end, as she often times sparks UA rallies, and is the team leader in kills.  But her most vital asset to the team might be her defensive prowess.  Owens, who passes in all six rotations, currently leads the team in digs with 245 and is essential to the teams serve-receive. Against USC and UCLA, Owens accounted for 42 total digs.

 

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 were ranked among the AVCA preseason poll.  Currently six are in this week's top 25.

 

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