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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats volleyball heads to USC and UCLA

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

Seven straight home games have made the Wildcats quite comfortable at McKale Center, but now they will hit the road for the first time in a month to face their Southern California Pac-12 rivals in No. 5 USC and No. 6 UCLA. Arizona goes to Galen Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. and faces UCLA on Sunday at 2 p.m. The team enters with a 9-6 record overall and 1-3 in the Pac-12.

“The hope is that we can find a way,” head coach Dave Rubio said. “It’s a daunting task because we play the best teams early versus some of the other teams.”

The team has yet to pick up a conference win since a 3-1 victory over Arizona State to open conference play. Since then the Wildcats have fallen to No. 2 Washington, No. 7 Stanford and Cal at home. Head coach Dave Rubio said the team still has a lot of maturing to do.

“If you practice hard every day or to the level that I’m pleased with then at least we put ourselves in a position to be successful,” Rubio said. “The conference is very unforgiving that way.”

Despite a long break from travel, Arizona was unable to find a strategy to beat the past three teams, taking them to four sets each time. Granted, the Pac-12 is overflowing with talent and the Wildcats are the youngest team in the conference.

“I think anything can happen this season, you never know, and I just hope we’ll be able to come out and surprise some people,” sophomore middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said.

As for the Trojans, the UA is anticipating a change of pace compared to recent opponents.

“USC is really tall and plays a completely different style of volleyball,” libero Candace Nicholson said.

The Trojans are coming off a 3-0 sweep over the Washington Huskies. The Wildcats have lost eight of the last 10 games against the Trojans.

The UCLA Bruins won the NCAA Championship last year. The dent in their record included two losses to the Wildcats as Arizona won in five in Tucson against the reigning champions and in three away.

“I feel like we can beat them again. UCLA obviously doesn’t want that to happen because the only things for them last year is that they lost to us twice,” Nicholson said. “It’s going to be a different game from last year.”

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