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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-10 rules on the court

If there’s one league that dominates the sport of women’s volleyball, it’s the Pacific 10 Conference.

At this point in the season, seven Pac-10 teams are ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I Coaches Poll.

“”We’ll find out next weekend just how prepared we are,”” junior setter Paige Weber said. “”But for right now, we all feel like we’re ready for conference.””

Arizona sits at the No. 19 spot while six other Pac-10 teams are listed ahead of the Wildcats in the top 25 poll. Two other teams, Oregon State and Washington State, also received votes this week but are currently unranked.

The accolades continue on for the conference early in the year.

No. 3 Washington received three first place votes in this week’s poll. ASU is the only team without top-25 votes. This isn’t the only year that the conference is shining early.

Historically, the Pac-10 has had their fair share of pre-conference success. Since volleyball became an NCAA sport in 1981, the league has claimed the title 13 times.

But this season didn’t begin with the Wildcats focusing on their conference schedule. The Wildcats faced six teams that were selected to the 2008 NCAA tournament in hopes of strengthening their pre-conference preparation.

And while head coach Dave Rubio always has a watchful eye on what’s going on around the league, the focus remained on the games at hand.

“”You kind of keep track of how the other teams are doing,”” Rubio said prior to the Arizona Invitational this weekend. “”But I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.””

In terms of preparation, Arizona concentrated on getting better every day. Rubio cited getting on the ball and being offensively minded as keys for success against the talented Pac-10.

“”We need to score more,”” he said about taking advantage of Arizona’s attacking skills. “”In our conference, you better score.””

Arizona has the tools to get the attack in rhythm on the court. Junior outside hitter Tiffany Owens ignited Arizona’s offensive output during the Arizona Invitational. Sophomore outside hitter Dana Hutchinson has had a season to mature and sync with the other hitters for the Wildcats.

And while the hand injury to junior outside hitter Whitney Dosty hasn’t shown up in the stats, the Wildcats could use another consistent hitter.

Though Arizona remained perfect for the non-conference season, the players know that the start of the Pac-10 season will upgrade the level of play.

“”No one cares about our record. USC is not going to care … when we play them on Saturday,”” said senior middle blocker Jacy Norton.

While a perfect record might be an intimidating factor in some conferences, it doesn’t distinguish Arizona this year. Three other Pac-10 teams also remain undefeated at the end of the non-conference season.

With the arrival of league play, there’s no easy trip around the coastal states this season for Arizona. Since they play each team twice, how well the Wildcats compete could determine if they will get a postseason berth.

And while technically, Arizona and Washington sit tied atop the conference, the real test begins for the Wildcats this weekend when they host the Los Angeles schools.

 

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