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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-10 Volleyball: Making the most of the second half

At the beginning of the year, head coach David Rubio challenged Arizona volleyball to do something that it failed to do last season — be a consistent team.

“”We would have a great win against one of our conference opponents, a top-10 team, but then the next week (we’d) stub our toe,”” said Rubio of last year’s ups and downs.

This year, the No. 18 Wildcats have had that same problem in the Pacific 10 Conference. Their wins and losses come in chunks, two- or three-game spurts that depend on whether Arizona is playing at home or not.

This trend isn’t much different from many other teams in the Pac-10, and there are other teams that have struggled on the road. But the difference between the elite of the conference — see No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Washington — and the middle of the pack — see Washington State, Arizona and Oregon — is the amount of success each team has had on the road. Stanford and Washington have at least had some success against conference opponents, each winning three games away from their home courts.

That’s not to say that winning on the road in the Pac-10 is easy. It isn’t.

The changes in atmosphere, opponents’ fans and overall tiredness from traveling all have an effect on how players perform.

But for Arizona, the struggles on the road the past few seasons have been a reason they haven’t been to the tournament since 2005. They have only won one game against the Pac-10 this season, and it was their first in two years.

Everyone knew the road through the conference season wouldn’t be a walk in a park, but the Wildcats have an opportunity halfway through the Pac-10 schedule.

Arizona has played every team once, and now has the chance to do something it has sometimes failed to do in matches — close out.

Often, Arizona gets off to a strong start in its matches, but struggles to finish the game when it counts the most. The hope for the Wildcats now is that the trend of their play in matches doesn’t apply to the rest of their season.

The season began strongly for the Wildcats. They won 12 in a row to start the year. With the end of the season on the horizon and the opportunity to make it back to the NCAA tournament, Arizona cannot fail to make the most of the second half of its Pac-10 schedule.

The venue for each match is reversed. There will be the opportunity to take advantage of the teams in McKale Center that the Wildcats failed to beat on the road. The Wildcats need to play the rest of their conference games, both at home and on the road, like their postseason berth depends on it. Because it does.

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