By Monty Phan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
3 . 2 . 1 . the streak is on.
After losing the first game against 20th-ranked Oregon State Friday night, the Arizona volleyball team rolled off three straight to win the match, and another three straight in sweeping Oregon Saturday night, running their streak to six straight.
The six straight wins ties the longest in school history, along with the 1980, '82 and '83 teams. The streak will face a severe test Friday as Arizona prepares to take on defending Pacific 10 Conference champion and fourth-ranked UCLA.
In defeating the Beavers, 14-16, 15-12, 20-18 and 15-6, the Wildcats needed just two hours and 20 minutes. They finished the Ducks off in an hour and 30 minutes, 15-3, 15-10, 15-13.
Senior middle blocker Rita Johnson set a Pac-10 and Arizona record against Oregon State with 14 solo blocks. In comparison, the Beavers, as a team, had 12.
"Rita had an exceptional weekend," Coach Dave Rubio. "She is emerging and continuing to grow as a player. A lot of the credit with Rita's numbers have to do with the way we pass the ball and Laura Bartsch's sets. But the blocking is all Rita. She has a great blocking mentality, she really does a nice job."
Led by junior setter Laura Bartsch's 53 assists and .333 kill percentage, the Wildcats out-hit Oregon State .250 to .182. Sophomore Barb Bell led the team with 24 kills.
Bartsch and Bell continued their hot play the next night, the former contributing 43 assists and the latter adding a team-high 15 kills. Rita Johnson hit .333 with nine kills and seven blocks.
Since losing its first match of the season, Arizona (6-1) has won 18 of its last 20 games. Overall, they have won 19 of 24.
Set to face UCLA and USC next weekend, the Wildcats refuse to see the two teams as anything other than normal Pac-10 opponents, despite both teams being in the top 25.
"I'm sure that they're excited about it, there are certainly teams that you like to play and UCLA is one of them," Rubio said, adding, "We still have to play well both nights."
Rubio also remarked that the difference in this year's match and last season's win over UCLA was that the match was later in the season and the Bruins were ranked No. 1.
Nevertheless, Rubio remained pleased with the weekend's results.
"I think for me it was nice to win," he said, "but more importantly it's critical that we continue to get better as a team in each match that we play."
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