By Lindsey Frazier
EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona's Meghan Cumpston (12) hits a return during the Wildcats' victory over Oregon State earlier this month in McKale Center. The Wildcats are a game over .500 in Pac-10 play heading into tonight's match at ASU.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 19, 2004
The No. 22 Arizona volleyball team heads to Tempe to battle instate rival Arizona State tonight at 7 in its final road match of the regular season.
The Wildcats (16-9, 8-7 Pac-10) have their work cut out for them as the game serves as senior night for the Sun Devils (10-14, 5-10). In addition, senior middle blocker Jolene Killough said she expects Arizona State to bring its A-game, as the matchup will be broadcast on FSN Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Every year we play them, they've come out and surprised us," said Killough, who ranks second in the Pacific 10 Conference in hitting percentage. "It's on TV so I'm guessing they'll just play great. It might be their senior night. Their crowds are brutal against us, to put it nicely."
Arizona hopes to build on its winning Pac-10 mark and take advantage of unranked ASU in order to be eligible for the NCAA tournament. Things will become more difficult as the Wildcats take on No. 14 California and No. 9 Stanford at home next weekend.
"It's disappointing that we didn't play better against Washington, but I still feel like the team is in the right place and is exactly where it should be," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "We can still get better and we're still working on getting better. I still feel like everything is out there for us in terms of making it to the tournament and doing well in the tournament.
"Every rival school this second half has gone five (games)," he added. "So Washington goes five with Washington State, and they should never do that. Cal ends up beating Stanford at their place and goes five. UCLA almost beats USC but loses in the fifth game and that shouldn't ever take place. I'm telling (the team not to) take anything for granted because ASU could come out and play out of their minds and we have got to be ready for that."
The two schools are coming off identical performances as both squads swept Washington State but were swept by No. 1 and undefeated Washington on the road last week. The Wildcats took down the Cougars (30-17, 30-19, 30-28) last Friday after being defeated by the Huskies (20-30, 27-30, 23-30) the day before. The Sun Devils began their road trip with the win against the Cougars on Thursday (30-27, 30-22, 31-29) and lost to the Huskies (28-30, 17-30, 23-30) the following day.
"(The Sun Devils) are definitely going to come out and play their best game," said senior libero Kelli Mulvany. "We're always the biggest rivals for them, at least. So they come out always strong, giving everything they have every single time. Their crowds against us are always much bigger."
The Sun Devils are led by Nicole Morton, who maintains an average of 3.59 kills per game, while Colette Meek adds a team-high 1.26 blocks per game. Setter Rachel Mittelstaedt averages 10.53 assists per game and Sydney Donahue boasts a team-high 4.52 digs per game.
UA junior outside hitter Kim Glass leads Arizona with 4.69 kills and 3.04 digs per game. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus contributes 12.24 assists per game and Mulvany averages a team-high 3.38 digs per game.
The Wildcats and the Sun Devils are knotted in the all-time series at 33-33. In the last contest between the two teams on Oct. 22 of this season, Arizona swept its rival at McKale Center. The Wildcats are only 11-19 when playing at the Sun Devils' home, Wells Fargo Arena.