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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Extra prep to push ‘Cats over the edge

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UofA vs Washington State volleyball.

Arizona volleyball will begin the final month of Pacific 10 Conference season on the road at the Oregon schools this weekend. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been thinking about the dreaded roach matches since Saturday when they last stepped on the court.

Both matches begin at 8 p.m., Friday against Oregon and Saturday against Oregon State.

“”For us it’s having good practice all week and then going up and stealing some at other people’s places,”” said junior setter Paige Weber.

While the end of the week normally means back-to-back matches for Arizona volleyball, the preparation during the week is something that changes for each opponent faced.

“”We’ve been preparing all week. Normally we prepare the day before a match, but we’ve been preparing since Monday for Oregon,”” head coach Dave Rubio said. “”The teams are so even across the board in the conference that every little advantage you can take or you can have could make the difference.””

Taking advantage of the little things is something the Wildcats will have to do if they plan to be successful this weekend. The Wildcats have historically had problems winning on the road in their ultra competitive conference. Compounded by the fact that there is now at least some familiarity because Arizona has played each team in the Pac-10 at least once, this makes the away matches that much more difficult.

“”The second round there’s less unknowns. It really comes down to doing things on your side and execution on your side of the floor,”” Rubio said. “”There aren’t going to be too many drastic changes from team to team.””

Arizona is spending more time on individually studying teams, their players and even their rotations. With time running out to make their case for the postseason, knowledge is power for the Wildcats.

“”It gives us a look at what kind of offense they’re going to run. It helps us be more familiar with the rotation so that we’re not surprised going into it,”” said senior middle blocker Jacy Norton. “”We can actually change what we need to in order to play to their level and make sure we can actually play our game.””

Weber agreed, saying that the more times you see a team, the easier it is to get to know their style, and what kinds of sets they like to run. If the defense can anticipate the action on the opponent’s side of the net, Arizona will be able to shift the momentum in the match.

When they were in the familiar McKale Center, the Wildcats defeated both Oregon schools. Away from their safe confines, however, Arizona will have to prove that they can get the job done on the road.

The No. 14 Ducks welcome the Wildcats to Eugene, Ore., coming off a win against state rival Oregon State. Oregon has defended its court well, only dropping one game at home this season.

“”They’re very smooth. They’re going to come at you from all different positions,”” Rubio said of Oregon’s team. “”No one (person) really that is outstanding, but they’re really good.””

While Oregon is a balanced team across the board, Oregon State’s senior outside hitter Rachel Rourke has been a standout for the Beavers. She broke the Oregon State’s all-time career kills record with a career-high performance of 36 kills in the Beaver’s match against Oregon.

In terms of stability, Oregon State has been up and down. The Wildcats will look to steal a victory in Corvallis, Ore., as the Beavers have only won one game at home.

“”They’ve suffered some inconsistencies throughout their matches,”” Rubio said. “”We’ll see if we can put them in that position to be inconsistent.””

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