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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Lengthy matches starting to take toll

Usually, ‘the more the merrier’ is a saying that applies to most anything involving college sports, but that isn’t the case with this year’s Arizona volleyball team.

Of the team’s seven Pacific-10 Conference matches, five of them have gone to a deciding fifth set. Two more such matches came in non-conference play.

The Wildcats are 3-4 on the season in 5-set matches, and 2-3 in Pac-10 play.

“”It adds up physically, especially with our team right now being so small in numbers,”” senior setter Paige Weber said. “”With the same people having to play every day, it’s tiring, and that’s becoming evident as more and more people are getting more and more worn down.””

Head coach Dave Rubio knows that his team’s tendency to take matches to the fifth set could be costly at some point, especially in a conference with as much depth as the Pac-10.

“”It wears on you, you have to be resilient in the conference, win or lose,”” Rubio said.

At this point in the season, resiliency is what the Wildcats need. Arizona’s last four matches have gone to the fifth set, with the Wildcats going 2-2 over that stretch.

The depth of the conference doesn’t give the Wildcats a chance to reflect on previous matches before having to play in the nation’s toughest volleyball conference.

“”Whether you win or lose, the next week you have another set of great teams that you’re going to have to play,”” Rubio said.

That’s certainly the case this weekend, when Arizona travels to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington and

 Washington State.

The good thing about all of the five-set matches is that it shows Arizona is able to compete with some of the top teams in the country. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the results aren’t there in terms of wins and losses.

Sometimes when a team is coming out on the wrong end of close matches, it can be because of a break or two going the other way. Junior middle blocker Courtney Karst doesn’t think that’s been the case so far.

“”We’re right there, but it just shows we can be so much better,”” Karst said. “”It’s not like the ball’s bouncing the wrong way; some people just outplay us.””

Arizona has been serving to win in nearly every fifth set so far this season, but a few different things have contributed to the losses.

Sometimes it’s been because of errors on the Wildcats’ part, which was the case against UCLA last Friday. Other times, the team has just been outplayed in the deciding set, like against Southern California on Saturday.

Neither is satisfying to Karst, but she can at least take something away from the match when her team gives its all.

“”I’d rather win, obviously,”” Karst continued. “”But I guess when we play our hardest it’s easier to take.””

‘Cats licking their wounds

Outside hitter Whitney Dosty has been battling a stress fracture in her ankle, and has been limited in practice for the last week and a half.

“”It’s been frustrating for her, and obviously for us too,”” Rubio said. “”The complexity of our team changes quite a bit with her either in there or not in there; hopefully she’ll continue to improve and get stronger.””

Finding a balance between finding a player practice time without risking their status for a match is sometimes difficult, but Dosty being a senior gives Rubio a little more leeway when making that decision.

“”She benefits from a high volume of touches, but she’s been in there and done it so I don’t think that (missing practice) would be a tough experience for her,”” he said.

Freshman libero Candace Nicholson is also going up against a chronic wrist problem. Both players have been limited in practice, but should be able to play this weekend.

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