By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
With a second-place finish in the Pacific 10 Conference and the possibility of hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on the line, the No. 6 Arizona volleyball team travels to Oregon this weekend for its final regular-season matches.
The Wildcats (20-5, 12-4 Pac-10) take on Oregon (12-16, 1-15) Friday at 9 p.m. in Eugene, and they meet Oregon State (10-12, 6-10) on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Corvallis.
Arizona is tied with No. 5 Stanford for second place in the Pac-10, but the Cardinal (23-5) holds a better overall record.
The Wildcats hope to benefit from Stanford's more competitive weekend, as the Cardinal battles No. 16 UCLA and No. 13 Southern California on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
"Stanford could sweep, but they got to play against two pretty good teams on the road," said Arizona head coach Dave Rubio. "So the hope is that Stanford drops one (match) and we sweep, and that will put us alone in second place."
While the Ducks and the Beavers sit 10th and seventh in the Pac-10, respectively, Rubio said that this is not the time of year when Arizona can afford to look past an opponent.
"We happen to be playing two teams that are rebuilding," he said. "I think my biggest concern about this is making sure that we're not overlooking and taking anything for granted. That's always my biggest concern.
"You just don't want to have a letdown going into this weekend," he added. "I think it's easy to let that happen if you're not careful."
Sophomore setter Amy Dyck said that closing out the regular season against less competitive teams is a slight advantage because it is a little less nerve-racking.
"I think it's definitely less stressful, but we're not taking them lightly at all," she said. "We're looking at it (as) a little bit more of a relaxing weekend, but at the same time, we can't take it lightly."
Although Oregon has struggled in its conference games, Rubio said that the Ducks have some athletes to be reckoned with.
"Oregon, physically, has some kids that I think are pretty good," he said.
Freshman middle blocker Mira Djuric leads Oregon with 4.24 kills per game, while senior outside hitter Kelly Russell adds 3.55 kills per game.
Oregon State surprised some people when it defeated then-No. 15 California in Berkeley on Oct. 27.
The Beavers are led by junior middle blocker Brittany Cahoon, who averages 3.21 kills per game and a team-high 1.08 blocks per game.
The last time Arizona faced both Oregon and Oregon State was to open the Pac-10 season Sept. 23-24. The Wildcats swept both matches.
"It's a long time," Rubio said. "I bet you the players don't even remember the personnel on those teams."
Arizona looks to improve on its 5-4 away record this weekend. By contrast, the Wildcats went 11-1 in McKale Center this season.
"I don't know what it is when we're away," Dyck said. "I can't really pinpoint to anything. I just know that it is a lot easier to play at home for whatever reason."
The Wildcats will learn their postseason fate Sunday at 12:30 p.m. during the NCAA Selection Show, which will be broadcast live on ESPNews.
Senior outside hitter Kim Glass was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Nov. 14-20 after she had 50 combined kills against USC and UCLA last weekend.
Glass's 2,000th career kill, notched in the third game against the Bruins on Saturday, made her the first Wildcat and fourth player in Pac-10 history to reach the milestone.
Glass had a career-high 37 kills on a school-record 97 attempts in the Wildcats' five-game victory over then-No. 14 USC on Friday.
The following day, she recorded her 17th double-double of the season with 13 kills and 12 digs in Arizona's sweep over the No. 16 Bruins.
This is Glass's fifth weekly honor.