Volleyball opens Pac-10 play with No. 2 Stanford

By Sam Spiller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 20, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona will need outstanding play from its starts, such as outside hitter Barb Bell (10), if it is to beat No. 2 Stanford tonight.


Bring on the big names.

After three weeks of playing somewhat inferior competition, the 25th-ranked Arizona women's volleyball team opens Pacific 10 Conference play tonight with No. 2 Stanford at McKale Center. California will be here tomorrow. Both matches start at 7 p.m.

Stanford was undefeated until Tuesday night, when it lost to No. 19 Pacific 3-1. The Cardinal was unstoppable early in the season, having beaten No. 3 Texas, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 15 UC-Santa Barbara and No. 23 San Diego State.

Both coaches and players say that Arizona has been eagerly anticipating this match and is looking to make more than a good showing.

"Every game I walk into I expect to win," Rubio said. "The players feel the same way I do."

The Wildcats are coming off their first loss of the season, a straight-game loss to No. 20 Loyola Marymont. Before that loss they had a nine-match win streak that included a victory against San Diego State.

Junior All-American Kristen Folkl leads Stanford. Folkl spent most of last year touring with the U.S. National Team and served as first alternate on the U.S. Olympic team this summer. This year Folkl has recorded 245 kills, 165 digs, 51 blocks and 22 serv ice aces.

Another Cardinal standout is freshman Kerri Walsh, the Gatorade high school player of the year. This season she has recorded 71 kills and 15 serving aces. Walsh racked up 19 kills in the 3-1 victory over UCSB.

A win against Stanford is a tall order, but Rubio said the Wildcats must remain focused. He said a win against Stanford and a loss against Cal would be the same as a loss to Stanford and a win against Cal.

"They both weigh the same in terms of conference wins," Rubio said.

Cal comes to Arizona with a record of 2-3 after two losses to top-ranked Hawaii. The Golden Bears will play Arizona State tonight in Tempe, then travel down to play the Wildcats tomorrow. Cal has played the least number of tournament matches of any Pac-10 team, as opposed to Arizona, which has played in the most.

Cal is led by middle blocker Kellie Alva and Brooke Coulter.

Players to watch for Arizona will be outside hitters Barb Bell and Michelle Fanger, middle blocker Keisha Johnson and setter Michaela Ebben.

"If we serve tough and pass well, we will be in a position to beat both teams," Rubio said. "We also have to put two blocks on their hitters."

The Arizona freshmen will be a large factor in how well the Wildcats do. Setter Kara Gormsen will be called on if Ebben is having a hard time. Middle blocker Erin Aldrich has played well lately, but she has never faced a team as good as Stanford.

"The freshman have no idea what to expect," Rubio said. "In a game like this everything is magnified 10-fold. It's not something you can prepare for. It's something you have to experience."