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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volleyball begins Pac-10 play

    Arizona setter Paige Weber jumps up for a block in a sweep over Cal-State Bakersfield last Friday in
    Arizona setter Paige Weber jumps up for a block in a sweep over Cal-State Bakersfield last Friday in

    Up for a challenge?

    The Arizona volleyball team is.

    The Wildcats (10-2) open up conference play tonight against No. 5 UCLA at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Facing the team ranked third in the Pacific 10 Conference preseason coaches’ poll will prove to be arduous after Arizona finished 4-14 in conference play last season despite making the postseason the previous 10 years.

    “”Pac-10 play this year is definitely going to be a battle,”” said opposite hitter Randy Goodenough. “”We’re ready to play and battle and show other teams how hard we’ve been working in the past few weeks.””

    The Bruins (10-1) enter conference riding a nine-match winning streak. Their only loss came against No. 1 Nebraska in four games – the only match that Nebraska hasn’t swept this season. What’s more, the team is playing at home for the first time this season.

    UA head coach

    Pac-10 play this year is definitely going to be a battle.

    opposite hitter

    Dave Rubio said he is confident in his team’s play thus far and that the obstacles UCLA presents don’t faze him and the Wildcats.

    “”Every road trip takes on its own

    complexion and has its own challenges,”” he said. “”But I stand behind my (players). We’re playing well, we’re strong and we’re going to go out and compete with a lot of heart and a lot of discipline.””

    Andy Banachowski, in his 41st year, leads UCLA, which averages 16.55 kills and 2.61 blocks per game, while Arizona boasts averages of 15.22 and 3.63, respectively. The Bruins are first in the Pac-10 in digs, averaging 17.87 per game, compared to Arizona’s 15.66.

    UCLA finished third overall in the NCAA last year but lost two All-Americans and the team’s top libero at the end of the season.

    “”UCLA is very solid – not quite as physical as they were last year, but they have probably the best setter in the country,”” Rubio said. “”That’s the person that makes them click.””

    Statistically, Bruins setter Nellie Spicer – a first team All-American last season as a sophomore – averages 12.79 assists per game, while Arizona’s freshman setter Paige Weber has a 12.54 average.

    Weber said that she is excited for her first taste of the Pac-10, the conference that is regarded as the best for Division-I
    women’s volleyball.

    “”Am I scared? No,”” Weber said. “”Anxious? Yes. A little nervous. Nervous for the unknown, not because it’s Pac-10.

    “”I think I’m ready, but I haven’t had it happen to me yet,”” she added. “”But I’m definitely excited. I’ve been waiting two years (to) get out here and not be a spectator. The returning girls on this team – I know they want a shot at this again after a rough year last year – and I want to help them get what is rightfully theirs.””

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