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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball set to host No. 7 Washington State

Eli Rahamim

Sofia Maldonado Diaz (2) watches for the ball at the volleyball game against the University of Southern California on Oct. 17, in McKale Center. The Wildcats lost to USC with a score of 3-1.

The Arizona volleyball team will return home to host No. 7 Washington State University in McKale Center on Sunday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m. 

Arizona (5-7) is 0-1 in Pac-12 play and they will face a tough Washington State team (11-1) that is riding a 10-game win streak. Both schools started conference play against their biggest rivals, but with two very different results. Coincidentally, Washington State and Arizona each hosted a tournament during the non-conference portions of their schedules.

Washington State: 11-1, 1-0 in Pac-12

In 12 games, the Cougars faced four ranked opponents, with three of them landing in the top 10. Their only loss of the season came in Week 1 at the hands of the then-No. 4 University of Louisville. Louisville has an impressive resume, entering the season as the national runners-up and rising to No. 2 following their win over the Cougars.

Washington State’s other ranked wins have all come in the last 16 days in a three-game gauntlet of top 20 opponents.

On Friday, Sept. 8, Washington State hosted No. 8 BYU as part of the Cougar Challenge in Pullman, Washington. Washington State pulled off a decisive 3-1 win with a road trip to Texas up next. Their next game on Wednesday, Sept. 13, against No. 18 Baylor ended in a 3-1 Washington State victory. Just two days later on Friday, Sept. 15, the Cougars faced the No. 6 University of Texas at Austin for their final non-conference game. Texas, like the others, fell in the Cougars’ third consecutive 3-1 victory.

These performances catapulted Washington State into the top 10 of the rankings for the first time in the season just in time for their rivalry game. Washington State opened their conference play on Thursday, Sept. 21, with a 3-0 sweep over in-state rival University of Washington at home.

Arizona: 5-7, 0-1 in Pac-12

Arizona had a tough challenge on Thursday, Sept. 21, as they opened conference play by heading to Tempe to play undefeated rival ASU (13-0, 1-0 in Pac-12) on the road. Though ASU isn’t ranked in the top 25, they have received 52 votes in the rankings, which is the most for any team not in the top 25 by a wide margin. The unblemished record also speaks for itself. 

The Wildcats fell in a 3-0 sweep to the Sun Devils, and the sledding won’t get easier against a ranked Washington State team that has a nearly-perfect schedule despite a murderer’s row of opponents. Arizona’s chances of winning are slim, but they could pull off a shocking upset where a win is really needed.

Arizona and Washington drew the shortest straws when it comes to starting conference play, with Washington set to take on ASU on Sunday as well. The Pac-12 has shown to be a solid volleyball conference in the 2023 season, with three teams ranked in the top 10 and another three — including Washington and ASU — receiving votes. Arizona and first-year head coach Charita Stubbs have their work cut out for them in a cutthroat conference, but the season hasn’t been axed yet.

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