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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Two top-5 opponents take on UA volleyball

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Annie Marum
Annie Marum / Arizona Daily WIldcat Soccer vs Oregon

Arizona volleyball enters the second half of its season this weekend, taking on No. 5 Stanford tonight and No. 2 California tomorrow in Tucson.

Last month, the Wildcats (13-6, 5-5 Pac-12) fell to both the Cardinal and the Golden Bears.

Arizona gets a second chance with the conference’s double round robin schedule, and head coach Dave Rubio says the Wildcats are a stronger force going into the second round.

“We’re definitely better than we were the first time,” Rubio said.
But Stanford has improved too.

“I think John (Dunning) does a really good job of building his team, step by step,” Rubio said. “His team is definitely better than the first time we played them. The hope is that people are saying the same thing about us.”

Like Rubio, associate head coach Steve Walker sees the Cardinal’s improvement. A lot of this week’s Stanford talk has revolved around its junior setter, Karissa Cook, who is Pac-12 Bank of the West Offensive Player of the Week.

“One thing you can count on annually with Stanford, is that its players are going to improve,” Walker said. “The setter was the national player of the week for a reason. She could easily be the best setter in the conference.”

With a setter like Cook running the Cardinal’s offense, the Wildcats have to heighten their defense in order to stay in the game.

“We need to take advantage of what they do, and take what they give us,” Walker said. “The bigger key is how we are going to defend against them. Last time we didn’t do a very good job defending against the setter and defending against the quick attack.”

After the Cardinal, Arizona will challenge the Golden Bears on Saturday. Rubio says the team is still very physical, but has perceptible weak spots.

“Cal is so physical, but they still have some things they need to work on,” Rubio said.

The Golden Bears struggle with passing and setting, he said. Even with the Wildcats’ improvement, the team is heading into the weekend without its top scorer, freshman Madi Kingdon, who is out due to an ankle injury.

“It’s frustrating right now for me, because I’d like to be at full strength, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible,” Rubio said.

In Kingdon’s absence, senior captain Courtney Karst says the team just needs to focus on one thing.

“We have to play our game how we do every day in practice, and we’ll be fine,” Karst said.

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