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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats set for a SoCal challenge

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA victory over ASU Friday, Oct 1 at University of Arizona McKale Center
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA victory over ASU Friday, Oct 1 at University of Arizona McKale Center

Physicality is the name of the game in Pacific 10 Conference volleyball, and that isn’t going to change this weekend when No. 25 Arizona hosts No. 5 UCLA and No. 10 Southern California.

The action gets underway tonight, when the Wildcats (14-4, 3-2 Pacific 10 Conference) take on the Bruins (12-4, 2-3) at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

“”They’re just going to be big and physical,”” Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said. “”UCLA is just a very well-skilled team. They have some kids that have good size and jump well and hit hard … they serve really well, and their volleyball IQ is good.””

“”Not only do you have to contend with some of the physical parts of how they are, but also their volleyball intelligence and their skills.””

Rubio likes to focus on serving and receiving more than any other facets of the game. Those two areas set the tone for the entire match and are something that UCLA excels at.

“”(UCLA) is the best serve-receive team that I’ve seen,”” he said. “”I don’t think there’s another team that’s really even close to them. They serve really well.””

That’s a good thing for Arizona, because the Wildcats are a physical team themselves. The only match this season that Arizona has been blown out in was against Stanford — a team that is physical but also a lot more strategic than the rest of the conference.

Arizona also has another thing tilted in its favor this weekend — confidence. The Wildcats are currently riding a four-game winning streak, three of which have been in a come-from-behind fashion on the road.

“”It definitely boosts your confidence, and we hadn’t had a sweep on the road since I’ve been here so that’s really big,”” senior libero Danielle Holloway said. “”It gets hard in the Pac-10 to get wins period, and to get them on the road is really big. So I think … having that mentality is definitely going to help us play better, believe in ourselves a little more.””

The Wildcats have had trouble defending their home court this year. Both conference losses have come at McKale Center, although those matches could also be chalked up to the competition being the stiffest the Wildcats have faced this year.

Holloway is hoping for that to change this weekend, and she thinks the home crowd can play a big role.

“”The rest and not traveling and stuff, some of the trips are pretty long with flights and driving and stuff,”” she said. “”Obviously the home crowd and being able to play in the gym you practice in all week are huge too.””

The bad news for Arizona is that although it looks like outside hitter Whitney Dosty is going to be able to play with a stress fracture in her ankle, she will obviously be limited due to the pain.

Although Dosty’s play will be hindered to some extent, the outside hitter position will still be in good hands. When Dosty went down last weekend, junior Courtney Karst stepped up to provide a career-high in kills with 22 against Oregon.

Even though UCLA is a tough opponent — what top-10 team wouldn’t be? — USC plays a style of volleyball that is much more physically demanding.

“”USC is the bigger and more physical of the two schools this weekend,”” Rubio said.

After taking on UCLA tonight at 7, Arizona will host the Trojans at 7 p.m. Saturday in McKale Center.

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