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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 14 Arizona volleyball ready for showdown with No. 8 Stanford

Arizona+setter+Penina+Snuka+%2820%29+sets+the+ball+during+the+Wildcats+sweep+of+Oregon+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+27+at+McKale+Center.+Snuka+is+second+on+the+team+in+digs.+
Alex McIntyre

Arizona setter Penina Snuka (20) sets the ball during the Wildcats’ sweep of Oregon on Sunday, Sept. 27 at McKale Center. Snuka is second on the team in digs.

With Pac-12 Conference play underway, Arizona volleyball continues its gauntlet of a schedule on Wednesday when it hosts No. 8 Stanford at McKale Center.

The Wildcats come into this matchup 11-3 and, after starting off conference play with a defeat at the hands of No. 6 ASU, they returned home to sweep No. 22 Oregon on Sunday. 

“One of the reasons we were more successful on Sunday in the Oregon game is because we had more people involved offensively, and that helped our ability to be successful,” said Arizona volleyball coach Dave Rubio.

Five different Wildcats had at least six kills as Kalei Mau led the charge with 15 kills, and Nikki Attea chipped in with 10 kills on .429 hitting to go along with three aces and a block. Penina Snuka set up her teammates successfully, as she tallied 36 assists to go along with six digs.

The Wildcats currently lead the conference in assists and kills per set and can hopefully execute efficiently against the defending Pac-12 champions.

“I am a little bit surprised by that, but I think that is a product of our defense, because our ability to dig the ball is going [to] provide the opportunity for assists,” Rubio said. “I like the fact that we are doing that, and that may be the first time ever that we have led in that category.” 

Stanford is 7-3 in the season so far and 1-1 in conference p lay, including a five-set defeat Sunday at the hands of No. 3 USC. Last season, they made it all the way to the Final Four before losing to eventual-champion Penn State, 3-1.

The Cardinal are led by All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention and Final Four All-Tournament participant Brittany Howard. The outside hitter currently has a hitting percentage of .301, averaging 3.08 kills, 1.89 digs and 3.69 points per set coming into the game. A few other key players for the Cardinal attack include senior setter Madi Bugg, as she is in the top 10 in assists and aces, while All-American second team member, Merete Lutz is ninth in the Pac-12 in blocks.

The Wildcats will hope to end their losing streak against Stanford, as they have lost the last 17 meetings. The last time the two teams tangled, Arizona lost to a top-ranked Stanford team in a hard-fought match 3-2 in Palo Alto, California. 

The game is at 7:30 p.m. at McKale Center and will also be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

After playing Stanford, the Wildcats host the other Bay Area school, the California Golden Bears, on Friday at 8 p.m.


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