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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Volleyball duels in Tempe

Michael+Ignatov+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUniversity+of+Arizona+Volleyball+team+meets+UCLA+in+an+NCAA+womens+volleyball+match+at+McKale+Center%2C+Tucson%2C+Ariz.%2C+September+26%2C+2009.+Arizona+fell+to+UCLA+3-1%2C+earning+its+first+loss+of+the+season.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona Volleyball team meets UCLA in an NCAA women’s volleyball match at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., September 26, 2009. Arizona fell to UCLA 3-1, earning its first loss of the season.

Arizona volleyball has posted an almost-flawless record at home this season, with the exception of the loss to UCLA on Sept. 26. But the road has been the problem for the Wildcats.

This weekend, the No. 18 ranked Wildcats begin the first half of the Duel in the Desert with ASU in Tempe, Ariz., the first serve to be held at 7 p.m.

While the state rivalry is a nice addition to get the players fired up, the Wildcats will just be trying to win a road game against a Pacific 10 Conference team — something they haven’t done in more than two years. Arizona’s last conference win on the road came against the Washington State Cougars on Oct. 4, 2007.

“”It’s obviously something that’s been difficult for us the last couple years within the conference,”” said head coach Dave Rubio. “”I think when you go on the road it makes it that much more difficult, and there’s more variables that you have to deal with.””

The atmosphere of the opponent’s crowd, the heated competition of the Pac-10 and the emotional investment in the match are all factors that make winning a game on the road a complicated task.

“”It makes it more important to us that we do win. I think it means more to me than anyone just because I’m from there,”” said middle blocker Stephanie Snow. “”To beat them in their arena, it’s going to be a big deal.””

Arizona (14-3, 3-3 Pac-10) will try to get their conference record back above the .500 mark against ASU (11-7, 1-5). The Wildcats will be looking to dish a little payback to the Sun Devils, who swept the Wildcats 3-0 at McKale Center in their final meeting last season.

ASU, like the Wildcats, has been streaky so far this season. They are currently in the middle of a five-game skid, falling to USC, the Washington and Oregon schools.

Before the slide, the Sun Devils were riding a five-game winning streak, including a sweep of UCLA, who currently sits at third in the conference.

“”I think they’ve been a little up and down,”” Rubio said. “”I think that, if anything, they seem to play really well when they play against us regardless of where they are in the conference or how well they’ve done before the match.””

The weekend provides a relief of sorts for Arizona, who will only play one match. In terms of winning the weekend, it’s all or nothing for the Wildcats.

“”It makes it easier for us to prepare and go all out knowing that we don’t have another match the next night,”” Rubio said. “”You hope that you just execute at a high enough level to put yourself in a position to win.””

The key to the Wildcats success at home has been their consistent offensive attack, starting at the very beginning.

“”Our defense and passing is really important,”” Snow said. “”That’s the first opportunity to do something good on your side. If we have good passing, I think we’ll be fine.””

For the Wildcats, the goal will simply be to win one on the road — the rivalry against ASU is just an added bonus.

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