By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona women's volleyball team is off to the Northwest to face No. 22 Washington State University and the University of Washington this weekend.
The Wildcats are hoping to build on last year's successful 4-0 record against the Washington schools. But in order for that to happen, Arizona will need a total team effort, something it lacked last Friday night in its loss to Arizona State.
Senior Melissa Ferris and Sophomore Barb Bell had major drop-offs in their production against the Sun Devils, recording only 23 kills between them while hitting a dismal .186. But Ferris is confident that she will be successful this weekend.
"I don't know what went wrong against ASU," Ferris said. "My serves seemed to go long every time, even when I just tapped the ball. I think that our play will pick up this weekend."
Washington coach Bill Neville feels that his team cannot only concentrate on stopping Bell and Ferris.
"Arizona has so many quality players," Neville said. "We cannot
just worry about their two great outside hitters because in the middle they have Charita Johnson. And we cannot allow her to get on a roll."
Washington State is coming off three straight losses against ranked opponents and is hungry for a victory.
"We have the good fortune of being a part of one of the best conferences in the nation," said Washington State coach Cindy Fredrick. "While most teams can find one or two easy games on their conference schedule, we have none."
The Cougars will be relying on the play of senior setter Krista Beightol to help counter the Wildcat attack. She has recorded 583 assists this season and is averaging 10.23 assists a game.
"Arizona has two of the best outside hitters in the conference in Melissa Ferris and Barb Bell," said Fredrick. "And you can't forget about Johnson in the middle, either."
While the Cougars will try to use quickness and defensive strategy, the Huskies will try to use the power of 6-foot-2 junior Dragana Djordjevic and 6-foot-4 sophomore Angela Bransom to defeat the Wildcats. The two are averaging 4.4 and 4.6 kills per game respectively. Bransom is continuing to heat up the Pac-10 over the last few weeks. She was named Pac-10 player of the week for Sept. 19-25 where she hammered 44 kills in two games.
Djordjevic brings more to the court than just her spiking ability. In addition to her team-leading 247 kills, she has recorded an unprecedented 30 aces and 109 digs.
UA coach Dave Rubio feels that matching up against Washington will be no different than any other Pac-10 team.
"In our conference, every team has a player or two that can beat you," Rubio said. "You have to key on them and try to slow them down."
Because of his team's obvious fire power, Neville is expecting a grueling battle against the Wildcats.
"When we square off against Arizona on Saturday," Neville said, "both teams are going to stand in the middle of the ring and exchange punches."
Read Next Article