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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats to face losing streak at So. Calif.

    UA outside hitter Tiffany Owens swats the ball in a 3-0 loss to Stanford in McKale Center on Saturday. The Wildcats will try to snap a five-match losing streak on the road this weekend against USC and UCLA.
    UA outside hitter Tiffany Owens swats the ball in a 3-0 loss to Stanford in McKale Center on Saturday. The Wildcats will try to snap a five-match losing streak on the road this weekend against USC and UCLA.

    Imagine a fleet of 15 ladies as tall as 6-foot-4-inches walking your way in an airport dressed in all black. Pretty intimidating, right?

    Intimidation is what the Arizona volleyball team is going for.

    Los Angeles is the destination this weekend for the Wildcats, who left Tucson Thursday afternoon in their mafia-like attire, lugging suitcases and their 2-6 away record behind them.

    The Wildcats (14-10, 4-8 Pacific 10 Conference) are scheduled to play No. 10 USC (14-8, 7-6) tonight at 8 at the Galen Center, then No. 9 UCLA Saturday at the same time in Pauley Pavilion.

    The squad split its last encounter with the Los Angeles teams in front of its home audience. It is easy to say the crowd – or any outside element for that matter – doesn’t make a difference in a match’s performance.

    Regardless of the arguable cause of Wildcats’ away record, they don’t prepare any differently.

    “”I don’t think (playing on the road) changes any in how we prepare,”” said junior middle blocker Jacy Norton. “”We always just focus on our side of the net and what we have to do to win and I don’t think that’s going to change for this weekend. We just need to be more consistent and not let outside factors influence us.””

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said he hopes the Wildcats can play loose like they have in recent matches. He said doing this would put them in a position to play at their highest possible level this weekend.

    “”We’re playing pretty good volleyball right now,”” Rubio said. “”But the key is that we gotta play well on the road, and we haven’t shown that yet. Young teams tend to be a little up and down on the road. Hopefully we can demonstrate a little more maturity in this road trip.””

    The Wildcats’ loss to UCLA earlier this season didn’t stop sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Owens from reaching her season-high of 23 kills. Whether she’ll pull out another 20-plus against the Bruins is uncertain to even her.

    “”That’s the plan,”” Owens said. “”I’m not really quite sure if that will happen, but I’m just going to go out there, work hard and just hope for the best. We’ll see.””

    After the team’s loss to Stanford last weekend, the outside hitter was down on how she played. In this week of practice, she has been working hard with drive and anticipation for her next time on the court.

    “”I’ve been nagging Dave (Rubio) about him working on the outsides and hitting against a double block,”” Owens said. “”I did pretty well (in Wednesday’s practice) with that, so we’ll see if that’ll continue into (today’s) match.””

    There are many factors that play into the powerhouse hitter’s approach and attack, but muscling her way through the ball and racking up kills isn’t the only thing she looks forward to, or even depends on.

    “”If my attacking is not there, then I have to look at two other things,”” Owens said. “”Since I’m on the court the whole time, I have to look at getting blocks for my team and passing a perfect ball for my team. So if my attacking is not there, I have other things to look forward to.””

    Like the outside hitters, the squad’s liberos and middle blockers have worked on sharpening their position’s skills.

    The liberos – and everyone who gets reps in the back row – have been working on their serve-receive and defense, which will coordinate with USC’s and UCLA’s serve-receive defenses.

    Middle blockers have been fine-tuning their offense behind the setter, and their progress is showing.

    “”I think it’s really paying off,”” Norton said. “”Dave even commented that he thought it really paid off this past weekend. And I think that we’re definitely seeing an improvement from what we’re working on in practice.””

    The Wildcats have worked on their game in practice, and they’re prepared to reflect the hard work this weekend with no question.

    “”Obviously we expect to win every game that we go into,”” Norton said. “”I mean, I know they’re going to be tough games – they’re very good teams – but I think if we do what we need to do we should come out winning.””

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