Volleyball hopes for McKale advantage

By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005

No. 2 Huskies to test unbeaten home streak

There's something to be said for home-court advantage.

At least, the No. 9 Arizona volleyball team hopes so.

Having won all seven of its home matches this season, the Wildcats could have the upper hand against No. 2 Washington tonight at 7 in McKale Center.

Arizona (15-3, 7-2 Pacific 10 Conference) is not only undefeated at home but also has swept six of its opponents, and in the games the Wildcats have come out on top, they won by an average of 6.5 points.

No. 2 Washington
at No. 9 Arizona

Today at 7 p.m.
McKale Center

Arizona has dropped only two games at home this season, both to then-No. 3 Stanford in the Wildcats' five-game upset Oct. 13.

But the Huskies (18-0, 9-0) have their own streaks to brag about.

The reigning Pac-10 champions have completed 16 sweeps and are out-hitting teams .376 to .107.

To defeat Washington, Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said his team needs to minimize its unforced errors, a problem that plagued the Wildcats in their four-game loss to then-No. 19 Southern California on Saturday.

"Washington just plays a little steadier than we do and they don't make as many unforced errors as we make," he said. "We just need to continue to get better in the areas that we're giving points, which would be in our serve receive at times, and I think our transition ball control is not as precise as it could be."

Although the win over the Cardinal gave the Wildcats confidence, Rubio said the Huskies should be an even more competitive opponent.

"I think Washington's a much better team than Stanford, for sure, but every team has vulnerability, and Washington certainly knows that, too," he said. "We don't want to be caught up in how good Washington is. We've shown that we can compete with the best teams.

"I think Washington is certainly a Final Four team and a team that has a shot at winning it all. The question is, where is Arizona in relation to that level?"

Arizona has fallen to the Huskies in four consecutive matches, including a sweep by the Huskies in Seattle on Oct. 1.

Senior middle blocker Angie Ayers said that despite Washington's record, the Wildcats will not be overmatched athletically.

"Washington's got some big girls that hammer on the outside just like we do with Jen (Abernathy) and Kim (Glass)," she said. "And they always have a right-side (hitter) that's very effective like Kristina (Baum). They basically have all tools. We also have the same feel. It's just a matter of us making low errors compared to their errors."

Outside hitter matchup

Brie Hagerty
No. 10 ■ Senior ■ 6'1"

Jen Abernathy
No. 3 ■ Senior ■ 5'11"

Christal Morrison
No. 9 ■ Sophomore ■ 6'2"

Kim Glass
No. 86 ■ Senior ■ 6'3"

Arizona will not receive much of a break when it takes on Washington State (8-14, 1-8) tomorrow at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

Although the Cougars dwell in the Pac-10 basement, Baum said Arizona will still need to be mentally sharp to win.

"We're going to put a lot of our emotion and a lot of energy into (tonight's) game against Washington," she said. "We just have to be ready to play on Friday, because (the Cougars) are not going to hand us the game."

Rubio added that Arizona needs to remember that one match is not more important than another.

"The reality is that each game in the conference is weighed the same," he said. "One doesn't mean more than another in terms of 'win' or 'loss.' I think the thing that we need to guard against is a real let down in the Friday night match. Any team can beat you in our conference if you're not prepared, whether it be physically, emotionally (or) tactically."

At the midway point in the Pac-10 season, Arizona is tied with Stanford for second place and trails Washington by two matches.

The Wildcats boast their best record at this point in the season since 2000, when Arizona was 8-1 and won the conference title.