By Kristen Davis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 10, 1997

Volleyball Match Up

No. 15 Arizona vs. No. 4 Stanford

(11-2 overall, 3-2 Pacific 10 Conference) (14-2, 5-0)

7 p.m. tonight at Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto, Calif.

Both teams have five returning starters and five seniors to provide leadership and experience. Arizona has never defeated Stanford in Maples Pavilion, which seats less than half of McKale Center's capacity, and trails in the all-time series, 30-2.

The Wildcats suffered an unexpected loss to the Huskies Sunday after upsetting sixth-ranked Washington State on Friday. The Cardinal have won nine straight and have not yet been forced into a rally-style fifth game. However, Arizona has plenty of experience in tight matches and figures to be a favorite if the match goes five games. Four of UA's last six contests have been stretched to five games and they are 9-1 in such matches over the last two seasons. But forcing the Cardinal into a fifth game, doesn't happen too ofen. The defending champions lead the Pac-10 with a .320 team hitting percentage and have not lost a single game since Sept. 6.

 Arizona's senior, Michaela Ebben is in the midst of her second season as the Wildcats' starting setter. She ranks sixth in the conference in assists, averaging 11.94 per game. Last weekend she became the fourth player in UA history to surpass the 2,000 assist milestone. Ebben has also had her share of attacks, often dumping the ball over the net on the second hit to throw an opponent off. She has the third-best hitting percentage in the Pac-10 at .386.


Edge: Stanford

 Stanford relies on Lisa Sharpley, a senior who also took over full-time setting duties last season. Her 12.03 assists per game is the conference's fifth-best average. Sharpley, a two-time All-American, played with the U.S. National Team this summer before having knee surgery on her right knee to repair a lateral meniscus tear. She missed three matches while recovering, but presently seems to have little problems with the knee, earning Pac-10 player of the week honors for her performance last weekend. In road victories over No. 18 UCLA and seventh-ranked Southern Cal, the Cardinal setter tallied 71 total assists and 19 digs.
 Arizona's three starters - seniors Carrie Penfield and Michelle Fanger and sophomore Raelene Morton - have combined for a .232 hitting percentage. When reserves Tatisha Ely, a redshirt freshman, and true freshman Allison Napier, are added, the figure drops to .174. Penfield, who leads the Wildcats in kills, total attacks and solo blocks, and Fanger were among the conference's top 10 in kills and hitting percentage respectively when Pac-10 play began last month, but both have since dropped out of the categories.

 Outside Hitters

Edge: Stanford

 The Cardinal starts three-time All-American Kristin Folkl, a senior, sophomore Kerri Walsh, also an All-American and last season's national freshman of the year, and sophomore Jaimi Gregory. Folkl and Walsh rank fourth and fifth respectively in Pac-10 hitting percentages and Folkl boasts the second-best conference kill average at 4.92 per game. The Cardinal starters combine for a .308 hitting percentage.
 Arizona's starters, senior Stephanie Venne and sophomore Erin Aldrich, average a combined .252 hitting percentage and 0.88 blocks per game. UA coach Dave Rubio has the flexibility to put in either of his two reserves - Keisha Johnson and Marisa DaLee - at any moment and rely on them in sideout situations. DaLee, a redshirt freshman is hitting .333 since Pac-10 play began and hit .500 or better in five of seven matches last month. Johnson, a junior, provided a spark off the bench over the weekend, posting four kills in four attempts in UA's losing effort against Washington Sunday.

 Middle Blockers

Edge: Arizona

 Stanford seniors Paula McNamee and Barbara Ifejika, play most of the match. Ifejika posts a .415 hitting percentage, the second-best in the conference. McNamee ranks sixth in blocking, averaging 1.44 stuffs per game, but the Cardinal's middle blocker versatility is limited, although Walsh can also play in the middle. If the starters struggle, Cardinal coach Don Shaw will have to rely Stanford's lone reserve Jennifer Detmer, who is has played in less than half of the Cardinal's 50 games.

-compiled by Kristen Davis

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