By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The end is in sight for the No. 21 Arizona volleyball team (17-9, 9-7 Pac-10) as the squad hosts the final two regular-season matches of the year. Action begins Friday at 7 p.m. with the Wildcats facing off against No. 14 California and continues Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Stanford.
Seniors Jolene Killough, Cassidy Crum and Kelli Mulvany will be recognized before Saturday's game, which serves as senior night.
The Wildcats swept instate rival Arizona State on Friday (30-16, 30-25, 30-27), guaranteeing at least a .500 finish in the Pacific 10 conference. In the game, Killough had her sixth errorless game in nine matches. Over that period, she is hitting .545 with 87 kills on 145 attempts with only eight errors.
With the sweep, the Arizona coaching staff feels confident of a playoff berth but feels that strong performances this weekend would greatly improve its seed.
2004 Senior Night
Saturday, 7 p.m.
"If I was a betting man, I'd say the chances are pretty likely that we get the bid," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "But you never know. But I'd say right now that our chances real good that we've got it. But if we split or swept this weekend it would make all the difference in the world."
On the season, junior outside hitter Kim Glass leads Arizona with 4.81 kills per game and 3.08 digs per game. Sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus dishes out 12.36 assists per game and senior libero Mulvany contributes 3.36 digs per game.
"I think that there are two very good coaches (at Stanford and California), who have been coaching for a long time," Rubio said. "They didn't get to where they are without their teams continuing to improve throughout the year."
California (15-10, 10-6) went 1-1 last weekend as it swept Washington State (30-23, 30-21, 30-18) on Thursday but fell to then-No. 1 Washington in four games (21-30, 30-26, 23-30, 20-30) the following day.
The Golden Bears are led by Angie Pressy, who averages 3.90 kills and 2.95 digs per game. Gabrielle Abernathy, the older sister of Arizona's Jennifer Abernathy, boasts 3.48 kills and a team-high 1.17 blocks per game. Setter Samantha Carter averages 13.67 assists per game and Jillian Davis contributes a team-high 5.43 digs per game.
Stanford accomplished what no team has yet to do this season as it defeated Washington (28-30, 11-30, 30-27, 34-32, 20-18) Thursday, handing the Huskies their first loss on the year. The Cardinal went on to sweep Washington State on Friday (30-19, 30-22, 30-22).
"Washington was playing not to lose and with Stanford playing well and having home court advantage, all combined to give Stanford that extra momentum to come through and win," said Butkus, who ranks third in the Pac-10 in assists per game. "But we have the advantage because it's our home court this time."
Reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week Ogonna Nnamani leads Stanford with 5.89 kills per game. Setter Bryn Kehoe maintains 12.12 assists per game and Lizzie Suiter averages 1.54 blocks per game.
"It certainly gives (Stanford) a lot of confidence," Rubio said of Stanford's upset over the Huskies.
"(We have to) play our game and not worry who we're playing, just play," said Killough who ranks eighth nationally in attack percentage (.417). "At this point, regardless, we'll play our best this weekend. I'm sure it gives (Stanford) some kind of momentum but I don't that's going to affect us."
In order for Arizona to compete with California and Stanford, Rubio said it is going to have to be more solid on the court. The team has won all 12 matches in which the Wildcats have hit .300 or better. Arizona posts a .346 hitting percentage in its nine conference wins but has been kept to .178 hitting in its seven Pac-10 defeats.
The Wildcats are 30-9 all-time against the Golden Bears, however Arizona fell to California three games to two on Sept. 24 of this season at Haas Pavilion. Arizona is 14-5 when playing California at McKale Center.