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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Volleyball concludes out-of-conference schedule in Indiana

Arizona will finish its non-conference schedule this weekend at the Butler Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The tournament begins Friday, Sept. 16, when Arizona takes on Northern Kentucky at noon and continues into Saturday when the Wildcats play Loyola Chicago and Butler at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

The Wildcats are heading into the tournament with a 5-4 record, but they have one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season and have already played three top-16 opponents.

Although Arizona’s record doesn’t reflect a team experiencing much success, the Cats tough schedule should prepare them for the rough Pac-12 slate they will face this year. Individually, the players are shining, so they just need to translate their personal success into team wins. 

In their difficult matches, senior Penina Snuka has stood out with her record-breaking assists, and sophomore Kendra Dahlke appears to be starting what could be a breakout season.

Looking forward to this weekend, Arizona will first attempt to beat Northern Kentucky. The Norse went 14-16 last season, but with their entire starting lineup returning, the team came out with great chemistry this season and got off to a 6-2 start.

While the Norse have an impressive record, they haven’t faced as tough of competition as the Wildcats this season. Still, the group shouldn’t be overlooked. They swept their four opponents in the Morehead State Invitational last week, and Libero Lauren Hurley broke the school’s record in digs in the final match.

Last week, the Wildcats didn’t have much success in their early matchup against No. 16 Texas A&M. They were swept in a neck to neck battle.

This Saturday, Arizona will look for a better morning start against the unranked ?Loyola Ramblers. This is a team that has struggled to find rhythm; in their nine matches, the team has battled for each of their four wins and gone down without much of a fight in the five losses.

Against Loyola, the key will be for Arizona to avoid hitting into the Ramblers’ effective block. They are currently out-blocking their opponents 2.44-2.01, which is something Arizona has had difficulties with in their previous matches.

Arizona’s final opponent of the tournament, who they take on at 3 p.m. Saturday, is the host, Butler. 

The Bulldogs have already played 13 nonconference matches, going 9-4. Last week, they hosted the Butler Classic where they swept their opponents, helping them obtain a seven-game winning streak.

Of the Bulldogs four losses, two have notably come from Pac-12 opponents. Utah beat the Bulldogs 3-1 and Arizona State eked out a 3-2 victory.

This isn’t the first time The Sun Devils and Wildcats have faced the same opponent this season. Against Pepperdine, the Sun Devils fell in a 0-3 set loss while the Cats dominated the Waves in a 3-0 sweep. The past mutual opponent is a great way for Arizona to gauge their readiness for Butler, a team even ASU could beat.

Plus, this tournament is the Wildcats’ last chance to prepare for their conference schedule which kicks off at home against their rival, ASU, on Sept. 21.


Follow Nikki Baim on Twitter.


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