Arizona heading in wrong direction in Pac-10

By Sam Spiller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 22, 1996

Charles C. LaBenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Despite strong play from Keisha Johnson (15) and Barb Bell, Arizona has managed only a 3-6 Pacific 10 Conference record so far this season.


The Arizona women's volleyball team has completed its first round of matches against Pacific 10 Conference teams. The Wildcats managed wins against California, Oregon and UCLA, but failed to pull off any other conference victories. They are now 12-7 overa ll and 3-6 in the Pac-10.

This was not the way it was supposed to go. Haunted by last season's disappointing 14-14 record, head coach Dave Rubio brought in what many considered Arizona's best recruiting class ever. The team also returned Barb Bell, one of the best outside hitters in the conference, as well as Keisha Johnson, a member of the 1995 Pac-10 All-Freshmen team.

The Wildcats also had proven veterans in Heidi Bomberger, Michelle Fanger and Stephanie Venne. Add those factors together and it seems obvious why it was widely thought that Arizona would be a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament.

Now the Wildcats are struggling to win against their stacked Pac-10 opponents. They haven't had a Pac-10 player of the week this season, although Bell, Fanger and freshman Erin Aldrich have been nominated.

None of the Arizona players lead any statistical category. Bell is fifth in average kills and second in solo blocks after her four-block performance against Arizona State two weekends ago. The Wildcats' 11 service aces against Washington ties them for sec ond.

After this weekend's 26-kill performance, Bell is now the UA all-time career leader with 1,653. Bell is also moving up in all-time digs and all-time blocks. She has 912 digs, which moves her past Caylin Combs to fifth all-time. She has 104 solo blocks, pu tting her third all-time behind Charita Johnson and Melissa McLinden.

Bell will need 210 kills in her last nine matches if she hopes to surpass Terry Launcher in season-high kills.

What happened to Stephanie Venne?

She began the year as a fixture at middle blocker but has seen little playing time since conference play started.

Her playing time diminished after she sat out against Loyola Marymount for personal reasons. Rubio limited Venne's playing time in the following matches against Stanford and California. It seemed as though Venne would work her way back into the line-up in the following weeks, but that hasn't been the case.