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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona volleyball looks to get back on track at home in the Wildcat Classic

The Wildcats are off to a 3-5 start to the season
The+starters+for+the+Arizona+volleyball+team+hype+each+other+up+before+their+game+against+Long+Beach+State+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+14%2C+in+McKale+Center.+This+game+was+part+of+the+Wildcat+Classic.
Giacomo Cain
The starters for the Arizona volleyball team hype each other up before their game against Long Beach State on Thursday, Sept. 14, in McKale Center. This game was part of the Wildcat Classic.

After two weeks on the road, the Arizona volleyball team is returning to McKale Center for their matchups this weekend to host the Wildcat Classic. The Wildcats have gotten off to a rocky start in head coach Charita Stubbs’ first year, going 2-3 on their five-game road trip and standing at 3-5 on the season. The three-game stretch at home includes some teams that have struggled so far.

Game 1: California State University Long Beach – Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.

Though their record (3-4) isn’t intimidating, two of Long Beach State’s wins came against formidable foes in the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Indiana. In their season opener, Long Beach State handled business and defeated Texas 3-1. The same 3-1 fate befell Indiana just six days later.

However, they have rolled over against Power-5 competition in recent weeks. The University of Washington served up a 1-3 loss on Friday, Sept. 1, and UCLA did the same the following day. Their most recent game was against the University of Nebraska Lincoln on Saturday, Sept. 9. Nebraska pitched a 3-0 shutout, and Long Beach State is riding a tough loss into the road tournament in Tucson.

Long Beach State has a good chance at keeping the score close, so expect more than three matches in what poses to be a tightly contested showdown between two teams trying to get back on track.

Game 2: New Mexico State University – Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m.

New Mexico State has the most intimidating record (6-2) of the opponents Arizona will face, but their schedule has been underwhelming to this point. A longtime member of Conference-USA, their schedule is filled with teams from the Group of 5 conferences.

They have only two Power-5 opponents on their entire schedule: Arizona and ASU. Their matchup against ASU, predictably, fell in favor of the Sun Devils and the Aggies were dealt a 1-3 loss. The other loss came at the hands of UC Santa Barbara, and the Gauchos delivered a 3-0 shutout.

Despite the schedule full of cupcakes, New Mexico State has handled business when necessary. The Aggies are riding a three-game win streak after escaping the Redbird Classic unblemished. Over the course of three days and three different opponents, New Mexico State only lost one single set in a 3-1 victory over St. Louis University. The other two opponents – host Illinois State University and Miami University of Ohio – both fell in 3-0 shutouts.

Despite having the best record of the three tournament participants, Arizona is one of just two real challenges that New Mexico State will face, and it’s easy to envision the Aggies buckling under the pressure. 

Game 3: Alabama State University – Saturday, Sept. 16, at 12:30 p.m.

Arizona’s homestand will end with a matchup against Alabama State, who is entering the tournament 1-9 on the season. Their sole win this season was a closely-contested 3-2 affair against Norfolk State University last Friday, Sept. 8.

In fairness, though, Alabama State has had a murderer’s row of games to this point.

They opened the season on Friday, Aug. 25, against the University of Cincinnati, a fresh-faced member of a Power-5 conference, and fell in a 0-3 shutout. Just a week later, Alabama State had to face both Wake Forest University and the University of Central Florida in a three-day span. Wake Forest delivered a 1-3 loss, and UCF hammered the point home with a 0-3 shutout. Alabama State has won five sets across nine losses with four games ending in shutouts.

Thankfully for the Lady Hornets, Arizona is the last Power-5 opponent on the schedule. Their chances of stealing a win are low, so they will hope to escape the Wildcat Classic with their dignity intact and heads held high.

Looking ahead

If the Wildcats can do the improbable and sweep the series, they will finally jump above .500 on the season. Long Beach State poses the biggest threat to a series sweep, but being back in the comfort of the dry heat could give Arizona an advantage. 

Arizona has struggled against high-level competition so far this season, with their three wins coming against lower-level competition. The Wildcat Classic presents an opportunity for the Wildcats to improve their overall performance and get them back into their winning ways.


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