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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona volleyball looks to snap losing streak on the road against Utah and Colorado

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Eli Rahamim

Alayna Johnson (32) and Jaelyn Hodge (11) signal to the rest of the team while the University of Southern California prepares to serve during the volleyball game on Oct. 17, in McKale Center. Arizona lost to USC with a score of 3-1. 

The Arizona volleyball team (6-13, 1-7 in Pac-12) will hit the road to face off against the University of Colorado Boulder on Friday, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m. in Boulder, Colorado, and the University of Utah on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats are riding a three-game losing streak, and have only won a single game since Pac-12 play began on Thursday, Sept. 21.

Colorado’s season (10-9, 2-6 in Pac-12)

Colorado is riding a two-game shutout streak entering the matchup against the Wildcats. The Buffaloes’ trip to Washington was a brutal one, as they were dealt matching 3-0 losses by the University of Washington on Friday, Oct. 13, and No. 4 Washington State University just two days later on Sunday, Oct. 15.

The Buffs’ season – as their record indicates – hasn’t been all bad. They drew a tough conference schedule, having faced three different top-5 teams already. They started the season off by dropping the season opener to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas before winning five straight. After the first game of conference play against Utah, Colorado sat at 9-3 on the season and 1-0 in the conference.

Recently, though, the wheels have fallen off. After winning their first Pac-12 game, Colorado proceeded to drop six of the next seven games, with five of the losses coming in shutout fashion. The sole win during this timeframe came against lowly Oregon State University which took five sets to secure.

History vs. Colorado

Arizona barely leads the all-time series against Colorado 13-10. However, Arizona has held the edge in recent years, having won seven of the last nine matchups. Two of those wins (Nov. 2018 and Oct. 2021) came in the Buffs’ home stadium. Arizona also hasn’t been shut out in this timeframe while shutting Colorado out twice.

The Wildcats will be looking to bounce back from the 1-3 loss that Colorado delivered in Tucson in the last matchup in 2022. Meanwhile, Colorado will look to snap their losing streak and get back to .500 on the season while winning back-to-back games for the first time in the series since 2017.

Buffaloes to beware

Avery Bolles is a weapon behind the line. She leads the Pac-12 in service aces with 33, while no other player in the conference has 30. Bolles is averaging 0.49 service aces per set – which also leads the conference – so the Wildcats will need to stay on guard from the moment the ball leaves Bolles’ hand. 

Utah’s season (8-10, 3-5 in Pac-12)

Utah also took a road trip to Washington with an unfavorable outcome. They played No. 4 Washington State on Friday, Oct. 13, and lost their second consecutive match against a top-5 opponent. On Sunday, Oct. 15, the Utes were more competitive, but ultimately fell 3-2 to Washington in five sets.

Utah has a very interesting split between home and away games. The Utes are a team that plays their best at home in Jon M. Huntsman Center. Utah boasts a 6-2 home record where they recorded sweeps against Tennessee State University and the University of San Francisco and one of the two home losses came against No. 5 Oregon. On the other hand, their record on the road is a shocking 1-8, with the Utes’ sole road win coming against UCLA in the form of a 3-0 sweep.

History vs. Utah

Arizona comfortably leads the all-time series against Utah 25-15. However, the splits recently and on the road do not favor the Wildcats. Arizona is riding an eight-game losing streak against the Utes, with the Wildcats last taking a win in Oct. 2018. Arizona struggles in Salt Lake City, boasting an unimpressive 7-9 away record, and the Wildcats haven’t stolen a win from Utah in hostile territory since Nov. 2015.

Arizona’s last five games against the Utes have ended in 3-0 shutouts in favor of Utah, with four out of the five being played in Salt Lake City. Utah has simply had Arizona’s number this year, and the Wildcats’ performances don’t bode well for a redemption game.

Utes to understand

Vanessa Ramirez is a floor general for the Utes. She leads the team and is second in the Pac-12 in digs with 261. Her 3.73 digs per set place her at fourth in the conference as well and she’s in the conversation with the University of California Berkeley’s Tara DeSa as the best defender in the conference.

Wildcats to watch

Seniors Sofia Maldonado Diaz and Jaelyn Hodge remain as must-see players and linchpins in the Wildcats’ successes. They both rank within the top-10 in the conference in kills; Maldonado Diaz is in fifth place with 252 and Hodge is tied for ninth with 219.

Ana Heath is the key defender, leading the team in digs with 186. She’s also a great complementary player on offense and knows how to set up her attackers, she’s also one of the leaders on this team and is fifth in the conference with 663 assists.

The Wildcats, despite facing teams with subpar records, are still facing an uphill battle. With the season coming to a close in just over one month, Arizona will be looking for confidence-boosting wins to set a positive tone for the offseason.


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