Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Wildcats Set For First Pac-10 Road Trip
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 07, 2010
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 7, 2010

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Oregon State (1-3, 8-10) vs. Arizona (1-2 Pac-10, 12-4)
7 p.m. MST | Gill Coliseum | Corvallis, Ore.

No. 13 Oregon (14-2, 2-2) vs. Arizona (1-2 Pac-10, 12-4)
7 p.m. MST | Mac Court | Eugene, Ore.

Ahead This Week for UA Volleyball: This week, the Wildcats find themselves along the Oregon trail, heading up to Corvallis first to face the Oregon State Beavers on Friday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. before squaring off against No. 13 Oregon on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m…The trip, Arizona’s first Pac-10 roadie of 2010, will most likely set the tone for how the rest of the conference schedule shapes up…Last year in Oregon, the Cats knocked off then No. 11 Oregon, only to fall to OSU one night later…Over 2009, Arizona posted a 3-1 record against the Oregon duo…This season, the Ducks find themselves amongst the nation’s top 15, highlighted by a win over No. 7 Washington.  The Beavers come into its match with UA with a record of 8-10 and 1-3 in the conference. According to Arizona head coach Dave Rubio, OSU “just may be the nation’s best 8-10 team and are very talented and physical.”

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Last week: It was a crazy week by all accounts for the Wildcats leading up to its in-state showdown with Arizona State.  Significant contributors Paige Weber and Courtney Karst both looked at-times to be injured in practice although each would be able to play against the Sun Devils and later on Sunday vs. New Mexico State.  Against ASU, Arizona took the first set closely, then never looked back as it swept the Devils 3-0.  An extra bonus was getting the dominating win in a match televised by FSN. There was no rest for the weary come Saturday however as the Cats bused out to Las Cruces, N.M. to get set for its final non-conference match of 2010 against the Aggies.  In the NMSU match, UA dropped the first set, before figuring things out and winning the next three to improve its overall record to 12-4 and earn its third true road win of the season.
In the rankings:  For the fourth consecutive week, the Wildcats just can’t seem to crack the AVCA National Top 25 poll, finishing tied for first among teams receiving votes. Saturday’s opponent, Oregon, is currently ranked No. 13.  The Pac-10 again has six teams ranked in the poll.  In the first edition of the RPI rankings, UA is 28th overall, through the polling seems a bit skewed as is always the case early in the season.

Head Coach Dave Rubio …is in his 19th season as head coach of Arizona.  In that time span, Rubio has a record of 352-204. Rubio also boasts a career record of 474-270 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 352.  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.

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 12-0.  In cases where they trail their opponents in overall hitting percentage, Arizona is 0-4.  This stat was again on display last weekend against Arizona State and New Mexico State as the Wildcats outhit each and took the victory. 

COBRA Magazine Preseason All-Americans: Tiffany Owens was named to this season’s COBRA Magazine National Player of the Year Watch List. Owens currently leads the Cats in both kills and digs with 213 and 157, respectively. After starting off 2010 relatively slowly, Owens has been UA’s catalyst, leading the team in kills in four of the last five matches including three of those wins where she hit for 20 or more kills.  Also garnering praise from COBRA was hitter Whitney Dosty who was named to the publication’s All-American Preseason Second-Team list.
Watch TO’s 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 six double-double performances, including three in her last four matches. Her total is good for second place in the Pac-10. On Saturday against NMSU, Owens had another stellar outing with 20 kills and 12 digs while hitting .280.

StackJack: She definitely got-that-swag so we’ll try to come up with a new note title each week for middle blocker Cursty Jackson.  Jackson, a transfer from UNLV and originally from Los Angeles, has been Arizona’s top middle through 15 matches this season.  No. 13 currently leads the Cats in blocks with 51 block assists and 15 solo rejections and hitting percentage at .404 to go along with 147 kills. Her quick set attacking ability with setter Paige Weber is an asset the Cats will look to exploit.

Learning on the Fly: It has got to be quite the whirlwind experience for freshman Maddie Lozano.  Originally expected to be redshirting the season and playing the outside hitter position, Lozano was thrust into the starting lineup due to a series of injuries and players leaving the program.  The Roseville, Calif. product has been taking a crash course in front row-middle blocking as she tries to prepare for conference play.  If anything, this experience will make her that much more versatile in years to come. To date, Lozano has 49 total blocks and 39 kills in 54 sets played.

Dosty Cracks the Whip: Outside Hitter Whitney Dosty has been arguably one of the nation’s most powerful hitters during her time with the Cats.  This season, though, she has been able to find better accuracy and thus is second on the team in kills with 211.  Her kill-to-set ratio is 3.70 and has a hitting percentage of .212.  She’s one of four Wildcats to appear in every set this season for UA, joining senior Paige Weber, Tiffany Owens and junior Cursty Jackson.

Nicholson Earning The Minutes: Freshman libero Candace Nicholson has been earning some serious playing time as of late for the Wildcats.  The Long Beach, Calif. native currently shares time with senior Danielle Holloway as UA’s main back row defensive player.  Her ability will surely help Arizona as the season progresses. Nicholson is second on the team in digs, behind only Tiffany Owens, with 133. Nicholson has led UA in digs for the past two matches with a career-high 18 coming against ASU on Friday.

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 383 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.  Weber moved past Terry Lauchner on the all-time matches started list with 107 against New Mexico State.

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 145 and is essential to the teams serve-receive. She added 12 digs Sunday night vs. NMSU to go along with her 20 kills.

Karst Holds the Key:  We said last week if Karst were to play well, it would likely bode well for the Wildcats’ chances against Arizona State and New Mexico State.  Well our prediction held true, as the Colorado native notched double-digit kills against each and UA won both matches.  Look for the blonde bomber to continue to provide UA with addition scoring opportunities from the outside.  This season she has 123 kills on .224 hitting.

A Few New Faces: In 2010, Arizona Volleyball welcomes in six newcomers to the line-up.  Freshman middle blockers Madeline Lozano and Tarryn Luafalemana will contend for immediate playing time along the front row while freshmen liberos Candace Nicholson and Emily Helm look to provide defensive depth.  Transfers Cursty Jackson (previously mentioned) and Marketa Hanzlova are also new on the roster for Arizona.

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.

Up Next: The Wildcats return home next weekend to play host to USC and UCLA.  UA will face the Bruins first on Friday, Oct. 15 then go up against the Trojans the following night.  Both matches will start at 7 p.m.

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