UA 6th in Pac-10, but 'still in hunt,' Rubio says

By Ron Parsons

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Stanford continues to be the dominant team in the Pacific 10 Conference with an 11-0 conference record. The defending NCAA champion Cardinal will be in Tucson this Saturday to face Arizona.

Despite losing to Arizona last week, the Washington State Cougars remain second in the conference standings with a 9-2 Pac-10 record.

Arizona State heads up a three-way tie for third place. The Sun Devils, UCLA and Southern Cal are all 6-5 in conference play.

The Wildcats, at 5-6, are in sixth place, followed by the Washington Huskies at 4-7.

Oregon State (3-7) is in eighth, and the California Golden Bears, who also travel to Tucson for a match Friday, are in ninth at 3-8. The Oregon Ducks, with only one win and nine losses, are last in the Pac-10.

Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said that, outside of Stanford and Washington State, the conference race is still wide open.

"The nice thing is, we're still in the hunt," he said.

Washington swing hitter Angela Bransom was named the Pac-10 player of the week for her efforts against the Arizona schools last week.

A junior who has played in only 10 matches this season because of a knee injury, the 6-foot-4-inch Bransom led the unranked Huskies to a sweep of Arizona and ASU. She averaged six kills per game and compiled a .434 hitting percentage.

Against the Wildcats, Bransom had a match-high 25 kills and added 11 digs. She had 17 more kills against the Sun Devils and also posted eight digs and two solo blocks in that match.

Junior Barb Bell was Arizona's nominee. The outside hitter had 37 kills and 20 digs over the weekend.

The Pac-10 placed six teams in this week's Volleyball magazine top 20 poll.

Stanford (17-2) remained at No. 4 in the nation after sweeping the Los Angeles schools, while Washington State (17-2) fell to No. 8 after suffering only its second loss of the year, to the Wildcats.

The UCLA Bruins (11-6) are at No. 13, followed by No. 14 ASU. The Sun Devils (12-5) were swept by the Washington schools last weekend.

Arizona (13-6) dropped one spot to 17th despite beating Washington State, and USC stayed at No. 18 in the country after earning a split against the Bay Area schools.

Arizona in the Pac-10 statistics:

Bell is fifth in kills average, with 4.42 per game.

Rubio said that last weekend, "It was the same old Barb. She played an instrumental role in those wins."

Sophomore middle blocker Stephanie Venne is second in the conference in aces, averaging .42 per game, and is fifth in the Pac-10 in blocks with 1.45 per game.

As a team, the Wildcats are fourth in the conference in blocks, averaging 2.97 rejections per game. Rubio said the Wildcats' ability to block was key in the upset over Washington State.

"The most important statistic in the match is the blocks," Rubio said. "Blocking is the first line of defense. What happened was, we were able to slow their hitters down quite a bit."

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