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V-ball to face Pac-10 champs Huskies

By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 30, 2005
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The No. 13 Arizona volleyball team takes its undefeated conference record on the road, as the Wildcats take on Washington State tonight at 7 in Pullman, Wash.

Action continues tomorrow when Arizona plays No. 2 Washington at 7 p.m. in Seattle.

The Wildcats (10-1, 2-0 Pacific 10 Conference) will be tested in both matches, as the Cougars (7-7, 0-1) do not draw many fans, and the Huskies (10-1, 1-0) are the reigning Pac-10 champions.

"Washington State is just dead and it's hard to keep energy," said senior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy, who averages 4.28 kills, 3.17 digs and 0.42 service aces per game. "When you play, you always play better when there's a lot of energy around you. You have to force it out sometimes, and that's what makes it really hard."

After falling to Washington and Gonzaga last weekend, the Cougars (7-7, 0-1) lost in four games to Eastern Washington Tuesday.

The Washington State offense is led by junior middle blocker Jen Barcus, who averages 3.13 kills per game. Freshman libero Jalen Pendon leads the Cougars in digs per game with 4.58.

Weekend Preview

  • Today:
  • No. 13 Arizona (10-1) at Washington State (7-7)/FONT>
  • 7 p.m., Seattle
  • Tomorrow:
  • No. 13 Arizona at No. 2 Washington (10-0)
  • 7 p.m., Pullman, Wash.

Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said the Wildcats cannot allow themselves to think ahead to tomorrow's matchup against the Huskies.

"Even though (Washington State is) rebuilding, any time you play on the road at their place there's always that chance they come up big and you come in flat," he said. "I think one of the key elements about this weekend is making sure that we don't lose sight of what we need to do first."

Rubio added that the team must remember that every match looks the same in the record books, and that a win against Washington State is no more valuable than a win against Washington.

"You could look at the Washington trip and think that Washington's the one we really need to get," he said. "The reality is that they all weigh the same."

Like the Wildcats, the Huskies are also looking to preserve their undefeated streak.

Junior setter Courtney Thompson averages 14.97 assists per game, which leads the nation. Washington is hitting .422 on the season, while holding opponents to a .060 hitting percentage.

"Washington's obviously very good," Rubio said. "They have all the pieces - two really good left (side hitters), a good opposite (hitter), a terrific setter ... good defense and serving. They do everything very well and very consistent.

"I think for us, we're right there, also," he said. "I think it's going to come down to which team is going to play most consistent. We can match up with them physically. We can match up with them in just about every single area."

Arizona has a six-match winning streak and is coming off back-to-back sweeps over Oregon State and Oregon in the Pac-10 season opener Sept. 23 and Saturday, respectively, in McKale Center.

"I think what gave us the confidence was that we actually came out and played really consistently," Abernathy said. "We just did what we knew we could do and what we've been practicing for."

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