Strong net play powers next UA volleyball foes

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

So far this season, the Arizona women's volleyball team has ranked among the best in the Pacific 10 Conference with its ability to hammer the ball home. With Melissa Ferris and Barb Bell both averaging over four kills a game, the Wildcats have driven opposing coaches crazy trying to find a way to counter their two great outside hitters.

But this weekend, No. 18 Arizona (10-8 overall, 5-7 in the Pac-10) will face two hot teams that have also shown the ability to dominate the game at the net. The Wildcats will face 24th-ranked Washington (12-9, 7-6) tonight at 7, and No. 22 Washington State (15-8, 7-6) on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Washington State is coming off a sweep of Southern Cal, and Washington defeated Pac-10 juggernaut UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Washington State's stand-out sophomore Sarah Silvernail destroyed the two L.A. schools. Against the second and third teams in the conference, Silvernail recorded 57 kills and hit over .300. In the USC match, her 35 kills set a WSU match kill record.

"Sarah is a strong and very aggressive player," Washington State coach Cindy Fredrick said. "She is becoming a leader on our team as only a sophomore."

Whereas the Cougars have one star player, Washington has three players that can heat it up and carry the team. Angela Bransom and Dragana Djordjevic have been on a tear all season, peaking against UCLA on Saturday when they combined for 47 kills. But the surprise for the Huskies has been freshman quick hitter Kymme Vicknair. She joined the ranks of Bransom and Djordjevic with her 20 kill performance against the Bruins.

"Kymme Vicknair is a true freshman and hasn't been quite as consistent as some of the other players," Washington coach Bill Neville said. "She is a hot-cold player with a gun for an arm."

And even though Washington and Washington State are coming off huge games, UA coach David Rubio has not changed his outlook on the two matches.

"We knew the Huskies and the Cougars were both very good teams before last weekend," Rubio said. "We are not going to change anything. We know what we have to do."

A major factor for Arizona in this weekend's games will be the play of senior middle blocker Charita Johnson. Johnson is coming off of a balanced effort against Sacramento State on Saturday, when she hit .300 with 10 kills, and recorded eight blocks. This ability to control a game worries Washington.

"Charita Johnson brings a fury to the court, when she is on she can do about anything," Neville said.

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