By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 11, 2004
The No. 21 Arizona volleyball team can finally breathe a sigh of relief after earning its first two Pacific 10 Conference wins of the season by defeating Oregon and Oregon State on the road this weekend.
"I would be lying if I said that it doesn't feel like there's been a weight lifted off our shoulders," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "We've been our own worst enemy, but I feel like we're moving in the right direction."
The Wildcats (10-6, 2-4, Pac-10) swept the Ducks Saturday, 30-26, 30-16, 30-14. Arizona out-blocked Oregon 7-4 and held it to a collective hitting percentage of .000, while the Wildcats hit .339 on the match.
"Oregon lost their best player a couple of weeks ago, and I think they're still trying to figure out their lineups and who goes where," Rubio said of the Ducks' performance. "They're just not in a position where they are putting the right bodies in the right places."
Senior libero Kelli Mulvany dished out a match-high 18 digs, making her the eighth Wildcat to ever surpass the 1,000-dig mark. Sophomore Meghan Cumpston led the team with 18 kills and eight digs, while junior outside hitter Kim Glass recorded her fourth double-double in six matches with 15 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. Sophomore opposite hitter Kristina Baum added nine kills on .615 hitting and junior middle blocker Bre Ladd notched seven kills and six blocks. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus played the entire night, boasting 36 assists, six digs, three kills and three blocks.
"(Butkus) was a reflection of the rest of the team, and we could never get in a rhythm or flow," Rubio said of the team's setter. "Stephanie was riding at the same level as everyone else, but as the game progressed she was hitting the ball much better. She, like the rest of our kids, is starting to calm down a little and play better."
The Wildcats snapped their four-match losing streak Friday as they defeated Oregon State, three games to one (25-30, 30-24, 30-28, 30-27).
Glass dominated, earning 22 kills and 12 digs, while senior middle blocker Jolene Killough racked up 16 kills and six blocks. Cumpston contributed 15 kills and 10 digs to the win and Ladd finished with seven kills and six blocks. Butkus recorded 54 assists and six digs, while Mulvany finished with a team-high 13 digs.
Although Arizona faced two of the weaker Pac-10 schools this weekend, Rubio said the coaching staff is not taking these wins for granted.
"Oregon State is actually a good team, and we had to play well to win," he said. "(In the first game), we just weren't getting there. (Now) I certainly feel more confident and feel better about our team."
The Wildcats have another tough weekend ahead of them as they return to McKale Center to host Washington State Friday at 8 p.m. Action continues Saturday at 7 p.m. as Arizona battles No. 1 Washington. After sweeping Washington State on Friday, the Huskies remain undefeated on the season.
"The other schools we're playing against is secondary for me," Rubio said. "I'm more concerned about us getting better as a group and returning to the upper echelon (in our conference)."