THIS WEEK: The No. 20 Arizona volleyball team travels to Kingston, R.I., for the Rhode Island Invitational this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17. The Wildcats open the tournament with a 1 p.m. match vs. UConn on Friday, followed by a 7 p.m. match that night against host Rhode Island. On Saturday, Arizona closes out the tournament with a noon match against North Carolina. All match times are Eastern.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona posted a 2-1 record last weekend at the Bronco Invitational with wins over No. 18 UC Santa Barbara (30-21, 31-29, 30-24) and Fresno State (31-29, 30-25, 19-30, 30-23). The Wildcats fell to host and No. 25 Santa Clara (20-30, 20-30, 30-27, 31-33). Senior Kim Glass was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 4.64 kills, 3.18 digs, 0.55 service aces and 0.45 blocks over the three matches.
Junior setter Stephanie Butkus is out for 6-8 weeks with an MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury she suffered during last Thursday’s match against UC Santa Barbara.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:Connecticut - The Huskies (4-2) captured the title of the UConn Toyota Classic with sweeps of Manhattan (30-18, 30-22, 30-22), New Hampshire (30-26, 30-21, 30-26) and Brown (30-26, 30-22, 30-17) last weekend. Seniors Heather Ashley and Jenny Neelands, and sophomores Julie Pickard and Brittany Stewart were all named to the all-tournament team. Ashley averaged 3.33 kills and 1.67 digs, while Neelands averaged 10.50 assists and 1.50 digs per game over the three matches. Pickard averaged 2.50 digs and Stewart added 1.83 kills and 1.92 digs per game.
Rhode Island - The Rams (5-4) went 2-1 at the New England Challenge, hosted by Harvard, last weekend. Rhode Island shut out Holy Cross (30-25, 30-19, 30-20) and Boston College (30-25, 30-28, 30-23), before falling to the host Crimson 3-2 (25-30, 30-28, 30-25, 20-30, 16-14) on Saturday. Junior outside hitters Rachel Bello and Inga Schlecht were named to the all-tournament team for their play. Bello averaged 3.54 kills and 2.27 digs, while Schlecht added 5.00 assists, 3.36 kills, 2.18 digs and 0.55 service aces over the three matches.
North Carolina - The Tar Heels (3-4) finished in third place at the GlaxoSmithKline UNC Volleyball Classic last weekend. North Carolina defeated Coastal Carolina (30-28, 29-31, 30-15, 30-25), but fell to Purdue (24-30, 30-23, 30-21, 30-22) and South Carolina (24-30, 30-27, 33-31, 30-27). Libero Taylor Rayfield was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 4.25 digs per game.
SERIES SHORTS:Connecticut - Arizona is 1-0 all-time vs. the Huskies. The two teams’ only meeting came on Sept. 7, 1990, also in Kingston, R.I., with Arizona winning 3-0. Arizona is 1-0 at a neutral site UConn.
Rhode Island - Arizona is 3-0 all-time vs. Rhode Island. The two teams last met on Sept. 6, 2003, with the Wildcats sweeping the Rams in Tucson. Arizona is 2-0 at home and 1-0 away vs. Rhode Island.
North Carolina - This is the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and the Tar Heels.
RUBIO TIES SCHOOL WINS RECORD: With the Wildcats’ victory Saturday over Fresno State, Head Coach Dave Rubio notched his 258th career win at Arizona, tying him with Rosie Wegrich, as the all-time winningest coach in Arizona history. Wegrich, who coached from 1977-1991, compiled a 258-229-9 record (.531) in 15 seasons.
POLL POSITION: Arizona has been ranked in the Top 25 in 105 of the last 114 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Polls. The nine-week lapse occurred during the 2003 season.
RANKING IN THE PAC: Individually, several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in the conference in various statistical categories. Senior Kim Glass leads the conference in kills per game (4.65), ranks third in points per game (5.50) and seventh in service aces per game (0.45). Senior Jennifer Abernathy ranks sixth in points per game (4.93), ninth in kills per game (4.05) and 10th in service aces per game (0.40). Sophomore Dominique Lamb ranks sixth in blocks per game (1.25), while freshman Brittany Leonard is fifth in digs per game (4.12).
CONFERENCE ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS: Arizona boasts several of the Pac-10’s active career statistical leaders. Senior Kim Glass is the current leader in kills (1,619) and ranks second in service aces (127). Fellow seniors Bre Ladd and Jennifer Abernathy rank second in blocks (356) and sixth in kills, respectively. Setter Stephanie Butkus ranks third in assists (2,680).
STACKED SCHEDULE: As always, Arizona faces a tough schedule in 2005. Included on the slate are 14 matches against teams that participated in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will also face seven teams (Stanford, Washington, USC, UCLA, Georgia Tech, California and UC Santa Barbara) that were ranked in the preseason Top 25 in the AVCA/CSTV Coaches Poll.
TELEVISION TIME: Two of Arizona’s matches this season will be televised on a tape-delay basis on FSN. The Wildcats’ Oct. 7 match at Arizona State (which will air on Oct. 8) and the team’s home match on Nov. 18 vs. USC (which will air on Nov. 19) can be seen by a national audience on FSN.
PAC-10 POTPOURRI: With Stanford capturing the NCAA title last season, the Pac-10 has now won four consecutive national championships (Stanford in 2004 and 2001, USC in 2003 and 2002). What’s more, Pac-10 teams have claimed 12 of the sport’s 24 NCAA championships.
REACHING MILESTONES: Senior Jennifer Abernathy recorded her 800th career kill and 500th career dig last weekend. Junior Kristina Baum notched her 250th career dig, senior Bre Ladd tallied her 900th career kill and 250th career digs, and senior Kim Glass recorded her 1600th career kill and 125th career service ace vs. Fresno State last Saturday.
CLOSING IN: Senior Jennifer Abernathy is seven digs away from 100 on her career, while junior Kristina Baum is seven kills shy of 350 and 12 blocks away from 150. Junior Stephanie Butkus is three digs shy of 400 on her career. Sophomore Amy Dyck is 10 assists shy of 200, two kills shy of 25 and 11 digs away from 50. Senior Kim Glass is 27 digs away from 900 on her career, while sophomore Dominique Lamb 18 seven kills away from 100 and 19 blocks away from 100 on her career.
GLASS’ STREAKS: Senior Kim Glass has at least three kills and three digs in 88 of the 90 matches on her career. What’s more, she has recorded double-digit kills in all but 10 (80 of 90) matches during her three years. With 1,619 career kills, she is 17 away from second place, currently held by Terry Lauchner (1987-1990) and 240 shy of the school record.
BLOCKING MACHINE: Senior Bre Ladd has been a consistent defensive threat at the net ever since she arrived on campus in the fall of 2002. She has at least one block in 95 of 100 career matches, including 29 of 33 last season. What’s more, the Tucson native currently has 356 total blocks on her career, good for sixth place all-time at Arizona and just three away from fifth place, currently held by Stephanie Murry (1984-87).
BUTKUS ENTERS ELITE STATUS: Last season, setter Stephanie Butkus became just the sixth Wildcat ever to eclipse the 2,000-assist mark. With 2,680 assists on her career, she is 12 away from fifth place all-time at Arizona.
UP NEXT: Arizona returns to the friendly confines of McKale Center to open Pac-10 play next Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23-24, against Oregon State and Oregon, respectively. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.