UA not winning the big one
Last weekend was filled with firsts for the UA women's volleyball team.
Since last Thursday, the Wildcats have played three ranked teams: No. 17 USC, No. 7 UCLA and No. 11 Brigham Young.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, all three matches have been losses, bringing UA their first three-game losing streak since the Wildcats lost four straight matches in 1996.
The sweep at home by USC and UCLA was also the first time Arizona has been swept in a weekend series at McKale Center since 1995. Ironically, the two teams that swept UA in 1995 were the Trojans and Bruins.
"The way we're playing, we're going to be hard pressed to beat any good team," UA head coach David Rubio said.
The BYU match on Tuesday was a special one for Raelene Elam, the team's lone senior. Elam is a devout Mormon and remembers wanting to go to BYU while in high school.
"Early on, I was interested in BYU, but they didn't seem too interested in me," Elam said.
"After that, I really never thought about going there."
The loss stung Elam, but not for the reasons that some would have expected it to.
"It's not that it (the loss) stung because of a religious thing," Elam said. "It was more because they were such a good ranked team rather than the Mormon issue. I just wanted the team to beat a solid, ranked team like BYU."
The Wildcats have yet to shut out the big player on the opposing team.
In last Friday's match against UCLA, Bruin sophomore outside hitter Kristee Porter had 36 kills, leading all scorers. In Tuesday night's match against BYU, All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith had 57 assists.
"You have to approach these kind of matches with the mentality that you're not going to shut down the big player," Rubio said following the loss to UCLA. "With a girl like Kristee (Porter), you need to focus on stopping everyone else and hope she doesn't beat you on her own."
Friday night's match may be built up as a revenge match for UA as on Oct. 1, Arizona State beat the Wildcats in four games at McKale Center. ASU's win over the Wildcats was the first time they beat UA in four years.
"Who knows, maybe we'll start our own four-year streak," ASU head coach Patti-Snyder Park said following the game.
Rubio was slow to hand the Sun Devils any credit in the match.
"Our passing was terrible and we couldn't serve," he said. "Arizona State did absolutely nothing to beat us. We practically beat ourselves. We were horrible."
There has been bad blood between the two teams since before the first match, when Snyder-Park questioned UA's lack of team togetherness in an interview with a Phoenix newspaper, which Rubio distributed to his players during the week of practice before the match.