THIS WEEK: The No. 21 Arizona volleyball team (18-10) will make its ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance as the Wildcats face UC Irvine (18-10) in the first round of the tournament at the University of San Diego at 5:30 p.m. (PDT) this Friday, Dec. 3. The other first-round match places host and No. 12 San Diego (22-4) against New Mexico State (30-2). The winners of the two matches will face off at 6 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, Dec. 4.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: The Wildcats went 1-1 last week, wrapping up regular-season play with a sweep (30-27, 30-25, 30-20) of No. 14 California on Friday before falling to No. 7 Stanford in three games (16-30, 31-33, 27-30) on Saturday. During the match against Cal, junior Kim Glass moved into third place on Arizona’s all-time kills list. She now has 1,487 kills in her two plus years at UA. Meanwhile, senior Kelli Mulvany, who finished with a match-high 16 digs, also moved up in the Arizona record books. The four-year starter is now second all-time at UA with 1,174 career digs, 123 digs away from first place.
Arizona finished in sixth place in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 10-8 league record. Placing ahead of the Wildcats were NCAA Tournament participants No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 USC, No. 15 UCLA and No. 17 California. Glass and senior Jolene Killough were all named to the All-Pac-10 team, while junior Bre Ladd was an honorable mention selection.
On the season, Arizona is led by Glass, who averages 4.84 kills and 2.93 digs per game. Junior Jennifer Abernathy adds 3.53 kills and 2.16 digs per game, while sophomore Meghan Cumpston averages 3.41 kills and 2.22 digs per game. Setter Stephanie Butkus is averaging 12.43 assists per game, while Mulvany averages 3.45 digs per game. Killough leads the team in blocks (1.08) and hitting percentage (.400).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
UC Irvine- The Anteaters (18-10) have lost four of their last six matches, including a three-game loss (23-30, 28-30, 27-30) at the hands of Notre Dame last Friday. UC Irvine, which is making its second-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, placed fourth the Big West Conference behind NCAA Tournament participants UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Pacific.
UC Irvine is led by 2004 Big West Player of the Year Kelly Wing, who currently ranks third nationally in kills per game (5.88) and 24th in service aces per game (0.56). The outside hitter also ranks No. 2 in the Big West in career kills (2,260) and career attempts (5,558), and fifth in career service aces (170).
Also leading the team is middle blocker Sami Cash, who was named to the All-Big West first team after leading the nation in hitting percentage for six consecutive weeks. Cash currently sits third nationally and tops the conference with a .447 hitting percentage. She is second on the team in kills and blocks. Setter Ashlie Hain and middle blocker Amanda Vazquez were both named All-Big West Honorable Mention. Hain ranks ninth nationally in assists per game (13.73), while Vazquez leads the team in total blocks (108).
As a team, the Anteaters rank 15th nationally in hitting percentage (.282), 26th in assists per game (15.18) and 29th in kills per game (16.42).
San Diego - West Coast Conference champion and No. 12 San Diego (22-4) is making its fourth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and has qualified for the tournament in eight of the last nine seasons. In nine overall trips into the NCAAs, USD has won its first round match four times, but has never advanced past the tournament’s second round.
San Diego’s four losses this season have come at the hands of Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon State and Long Beach State, and three of those four losses went to five games. The Toreros are riding a 16-match winning streak and are coached by 2004 WCC Coach of the Year Jennifer Petrie. The USD squad, which went undefeated in league play, had four players -- Devon Forster, Emily Haas, Kristen Hurst and Lindsey Sherburne -- named to the 2004 All-WCC First Team. In addition, Forster was named WCC Player of the Year and libero Jackie Bernardin, an honorable mention All-WCC pick, was named WCC Defensive Player of the Year.
Forster paces the Toreros with a team- and league-best 5.41 kills per game, while Haas and Hurst add 2.93 and 2.76 kills per game, respectively. Sherburne dishes out 14.12 assists per game and Bernardin has a 4.77 digs per game average.
New Mexico State - New Mexico State (30-2) went undefeated in conference play for the second year in a row, winning its second-consecutive Sun Belt regular-season championship. In the midst of a 19-match winning streak, the unranked Aggies defeated North Texas, New Orleans and Western Kentucky to win the Sun Belt Tournament title. New Mexico State’s two losses this season came at the hands of WAC members Boise State and UTEP.
The Aggies are coached by SBC Coach of the Year Mike Jordan and boast three first-team all-conference selections (Stevi Adams, Alice Borden and Jackie Choi), a second-team pick (Briana Akrie) and the Newcomer of the Year (Choi). Adams who became New Mexico State’s all-time kills leader during SBC Tournament play, averages 3.95 kills and 3.54 digs per game. Borden adds 2.71 kills and a team-high 1.65 blocks per game. She also has a team-best .343 hitting percentage. The setter Choi dishes out 11.86 assists per game and adds 2.51 digs, .17 kills, 0.88 blocks and 0.41 service aces per game. Akrie leads the team with a 5.28 digs per game average.
UC Irvine- Arizona is 2-2 all-time vs. the Anteaters. The two teams last faced each other on Sept. 18, 1981, with the Wildcats winning 2-0 in San Diego. All four match-ups have come at neutral sites.
San Diego- Arizona is 7-1 all-time against the Toreros, with their only loss coming earlier this season, a three-game loss on Sept. 4 in Hawaii. The Wildcats are 2-0 at home, 1-0 away and 4-1 at a neutral site vs. San Diego.
New Mexico State- Arizona is 11-0 all-time against the Aggies. The last time the two teams met, on Sept. 12, 2003, the Wildcats won in three games in Tucson. Arizona is 7-0 at home, 3-0 away and 1-0 at a neutral site vs. New Mexico State.
ARIZONA TOURNAMENT TIDBITS: Arizona is 5-10 this season against the other teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field. In its 34-year history, Arizona has faced 42 of the teams in the 2004 tournament with a 204-227-2 (.473) all-time record.
WILDCATS AND THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This is Arizona’s 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1981 and made a string of nine-straight appearances from 1981-1989. The Wildcats next participated in postseason play in David Rubio’s second season, making back-to-back appearances in 1993 and 1994. After a one-year absence in 1995, Arizona has participated in the last nine NCAA Tournaments. The Wildcats are 22-19 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
SINGLE SEASON RECORDS: Several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in various single season records. Senior libero Kelli Mulvany’s dig average of 3.45 is first all-time, while senior Jolene Killough’s hitting percentage of .400 ranks third. Junior Kim Glass is averaging 4.84 kills per game, the fourth best season average, and sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus’ assist average of 12.43 per game ranks sixth.
GLASS, KILLOUGH, LADD NAMED ALL-PAC-10: Junior outside hitter Kim Glass and senior middle blocker Jolene Killough were named to the 14-member All-Pacific-10 team, while junior middle blocker Bre Ladd was an honorable mention selection.
Despite missing the first 10 matches of the season with a shoulder injury, Glass, a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree, currently leads the team in kills, kills per game, service aces per game and solo blocks. She also ranks second in service aces and digs per game and fourth in digs and blocks per game. In conference matches, she ranked second in kills and points and third in service aces. Last Friday against California, Glass moved into third place all-time at Arizona in career kills. She now has 1,487 on her career.
A senior middle blocker, Killough currently ranks 10th nationally and third in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage. She also ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in blocks per game. Killough leads the Wildcats in hitting percentage, block assists, total blocks and blocks per game. Killough committed zero errors in seven matches this season, including a string of five straight. Her .404 season hitting percentage ranks third all-time at Arizona, while her career mark of .353 ranks second.
Ladd ranks second on the team in solo blocks, block assists, total blocks and blocks per game, is third in service aces, and fourth in kills, kills per game and service aces per game. In Pac-10 matches, Ladd ranked fifth in hitting percentage (.365). She had at least one block in 27 of 28 matches this season, leading the team in blocks 11 times.
FOUR WILDCATS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-PAC-10: Arizona volleyball players Stephanie Butkus, Meghan Cumpston, Kim Glass and Jolene Killough were named honorable mention Academic All-Pacific-10. To be eligible for selection to the team, a student-athlete must have a 3.0 overall grade-point average (GPA) and be either a starter or significant contributor.
Butkus, a sophomore setter, boasts a 3.133 GPA as an engineering management major, while the sophomore Cumpston, a veterinary science major, has a 3.017 GPA. Glass, a junior, maintains a 3.000 GPA as a communication major. Rounding out the group is the senior Killough, who has a 3.191 GPA as a marketing major.
POLL FACTS: Arizona has been ranked in the Top 25 in 100 of the last 109 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Polls. The nine-week lapse occurred last year.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Junior Kim Glass leads the Wildcats with nine double-doubles this season, while junior Jennifer Abernathy has seven. Sophomores Stephanie Butkus and Meghan Cumpston have six and five, respectively. Rounding out the group is junior Bre Ladd with two.
RANKING NATIONALLY: As a team, the Wildcats rank 27th nationally in kills per game (16.48) and 28th in hitting percentage (.265). Individually, senior Jolene Killough ranks 10th in the nation in attack percentage (.400).
REACHING MILESTONES: Junior Jennifer Abernathy recorded her 450th career dig and senior Cassidy Crum notched her 400th career dig last Saturday against Stanford. Setter Stephanie Butkus got her 150th career kill against California on Friday and her 350th career dig last Saturday vs. Stanford. Sophomore Meghan Cumpston got her 200th career dig last Friday against California.
CLOSING IN: Junior Jennifer Abernathy is 12 kills shy of 700, while sophomore Meghan Cumpston needs 13 kills to reach 350 on her career. Freshman Amy Dyck is six assists away from 100 on her career, while junior Kim Glass is 13 kills shy of 1,500, 12 blocks away from 200 and 13 digs shy of 800. Senior Jolene Killough is 13 kills away from 500 and 11 digs shy of 100, while junior Bre Ladd is nine kills away from 850 on her career. Freshman Dominique Lamb is four blocks shy of 50, while senior Kelli Mulvany is 26 digs away from 1,200 on her career.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10: Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus ranks third in the Pac-10 in assists per game, while senior Jolene Killough is third in hitting percentage and eighth in blocks per game. Meanwhile, sophomore Kristina Baum is eighth in hitting percentage and senior Kelli Mulvany is ninth in digs.
In conference matches only, Killough leads the league in hitting percentage and ranks 10th in blocks. Junior Kim Glass is second in points and kills, and third in service aces. Meanwhile, Butkus is third in assists and Mulvany is seventh in digs.
As a team, the Wildcats rank in the top half of the conference in every category but digs.
.300 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: All 13 matches during which the Wildcats have hit .300 or better have been wins. Arizona hit .342 in its 10 league victories, while posting a .177 attack percentage in the eight league defeats.
KILLOUGH KILLING IT: On Nov. 19 at Arizona State, senior middle blocker Jolene Killough posted her sixth error-free match in nine matches. During that time, she hit .545 with 87 kills (3.22 kpg) on 145 attempts and just eight errors.
BUTKUS ENTERS ELITE STATUS: Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus is just the sixth Wildcat ever to eclipse the 2,000-assist mark. She now has 2,437 on her career, 256 away from fifth place.
GLASS’ STREAKS: Junior Kim Glass has at least three kills and three digs in 80 of the 82 matches on her career. What’s more, she has recorded double-digit kills in all but 10 (72 of 82) matches during her three years. With 1,487 career kills, the junior is 150 away from second place, currently held by Terry Lauchner (1987-1990).
BLOCKING MACHINE: Junior Bre Ladd has been a consistent defensive threat at the net ever since she arrived on campus in the fall of 2002. The middle blocker has at least one block in 87 of 92 career matches, including 27 of 28 this season. What’s more, the Tucson native currently has 329 total blocks on her career, good for ninth place all-time at Arizona and just five away from eighth place, currently held by Leigh Halliwell (1985-88).
MULVANY DIGGING IT UP: Senior Kelli Mulvany has been a steady defensive player for the Wildcats this season. She has reached double-digit digs 19 times on the season and has led the team in digs 17 times, including 14 of the 18 Pac-10 matches. She currently ranks second all-time in career digs at Arizona with 1,174, 124 away from first place.
WILDCATS RANK NATIONALLY IN ATTENDANCE: Arizona currently ranks 20th nationally in home attendance with an average of 1,394 over 12 matches.
RUBIO APPROACHING ARIZONA WINS RECORD: Head Coach David Rubio currently has 252 wins in his 13 seasons at the helm. He needs just seven more to become the winningest coach in Arizona volleyball history. Rosie Wegrich, who coached from 1977-1991, compiled 258 wins in 15 seasons for an average of 17 per year.
NEXT UP: Should Arizona defeat UC Irvine, it will face the winner of the San Diego-New Mexico State match at 6 p.m. (PDT) Saturday, Dec. 4.