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Volleyball team goes Duck hunting for win

Claire c. laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona sophomore Bre Ladd (9) attempts a spike during the Wildcats' four-game loss to No. 1 Southern California last weekend in McKale Center.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 13, 2003

In need of wins, Oregon may be exactly what the doctor prescribed for the UA volleyball team - the Ducks have yet to win a home or true road match.

Arizona (12-13, 6-8 Pacific 10 Conference) hits the Oregon Trail, facing UO (3-20, 0-14) tonight and Oregon State (14-12, 4-10) in Corvallis on Friday.

On top of a 15-match losing streak and having lost 19 of its last 20, Oregon lost its starting setter, sophomore Jodi Bell, for the season after she tore her ACL in Oregon's last match. After earning the starting nod last year as a true freshman, Bell earned honorable mention freshman All-Pac-10 honors.

True freshman Heather Madison, a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 freshman like Bell, is her replacement.

UA head coach Dave Rubio said he felt bad for Oregon head coach Carl Ferreira and assistant coach Keith Rubio, his brother, after the Pac-10's last-place team lost volleyball's equivalent of a quarterback.

"I don't know what their second setter's like, but to lose your starting setter is pretty devastating unless you got another accomplished setter sitting on the sidelines," Rubio said. "They might - that I don't know. All I know is that I feel bad for Carl and for Keith and know that it's a difficult situation."

The Ducks' hitting percentage is a conference-low .197, and they only have three players hitting .210 or better. Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Mason leads the Oregon attack with 242 kills, while Arizona's leader, sophomore outside hitter Kim Glass, has 510.

Rubio is not afraid that the Wildcats, needing four wins in their last five to make the tournament, will overlook anyone.

"I'm not concerned about a letdown," he said. "Every match has equal importance to us. It doesn't matter who it's against. It's all about getting as many 'W's as we can."

"I think that the girls understand the situation and understand that it's important that we play well and we're ready to play, regardless of who the opponent is. We've had two very good practices, which is always a good sign to me. I feel like the girls are in a good place, and my hope is that we go out and play well this weekend," Rubio added.

UO has yet to win a home match or a real road match, beating only Temple, James Madison and Villanova on neutral sites in preseason tournaments. After beating JMU in North Carolina's tournament, the Ducks lost to James Madison in Madison's tournament five days later.

In the first meeting this year in Tucson, the Wildcats won in straight sets, 30-21, 30-28 and 30-19, giving the UA a chance to use its bench.

Rubio is not concerned that Oregon may be due for a victory.

"I actually don't think about things like that," Rubio said. "I'm more concerned with how we do on our side of the net versus what the opponent's circumstances might be."

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