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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona volleyball taking tough test Friday against Stanford

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Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA volleyball vs Washington on Sept. 22, 2012.

Arizona takes on No. 7 Stanford on Friday at 7 p.m. at McKale Center. The Wildcats put up a fight against Washington in a 3-1 loss last weekend, but the game against a talented Cardinal squad should be a tougher test. Stanford (10-2, 2-0 Pac-12) opened conference play with a sweep over Cal and went 3-1 against Utah.

“Stanford is just one of those teams that’s just good at volleyball,” junior libero Candace Nicholson said. “They don’t have any overpowering players, they just know how to play and the coach is one of the best.”

Arizona will need some luck this weekend, and the young Wildcat talent will have to play like veterans to avoid extending their losing streak to two games. Arizona has an all-time 7-57 record against the Cardinal.

“Right now, we’re just mainly focusing on what we can improve as a team,” junior setter Chanel Brown said. “We just need to go out there and compete and play hard to make sure every point counts.”

The Cardinal had a preseason record similar to the Wildcats’ and now stands 10-2. Regardless, Stanford remains one of the toughest teams in the nation.

With just four freshmen on its roster, Stanford is an experienced team in the Pac-12. Wildcat head coach Dave Rubio said the teams in the conference play at a much higher level. They will respond where other teams haven’t.

“I asked my team this,” Rubio said. “I said, ‘How does that make you feel? How often are we going to get close and lose? And how often are we going to turn a corner and beat a good team?’”

His hope is to see the UA defeat tougher opponents that it is considered an underdog against. Stanford could be one of them.

“Luck plays a big role going into the Pac-12 because on any given night anyone can beat anyone,” Nicholson said. “It will definitely take a little bit of luck and us playing well.”

A home court advantage may be the help the Wildcats need to pull out a win against Stanford.

She said it:

“When you hear big names like that, it’s always a little intimidating, but anything can happen,” sophomore middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said. “You hear about all these random upsets all the time.”

Who to Watch:

Both teams have starting freshman setters, Lauren Fuller for Arizona and Maddi Bugg for Stanford. Fuller recently became a starter for Arizona in a two setter rotation with junior setter Chanel Brown. Stanford’s middle blocker Carly Wopat will be a major offensive threat that Arizona will need to shut down. Wopat ended the season with 1.63 blocks per set, good for second in the nation.

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