Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
#25 ARIZONA vs. COLORADO & UTAH
OCT. 19 & 21 • MCKALE CENTER
Match Notes: Arizona Wildcats (14-6, 3-5 Pac-12) • Colorado Buffaloes (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12) • Utah Utes (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12)
THE GAMES (Times MST)
Match 21 | Friday, Oct. 19 (7 p.m.) | vs. | Pac-12 Network (Mountain) | Live Stats
Match 22 | Sunday, Oct. 21 (1 p.m.) | vs. | Pac-12 Network (Arizona) | Live Stats
Twenty-fifth-ranked Arizona (14-6, 3-5 Pac-12) returns home to face Colorado (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12) and Utah (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12) this week to wrap up the first half of Pac-12 play. Arizona is looking to get back to its winning ways and will host a pair of unranked teams this week after four straight losses to opponents ranked in the top 25. UA takes on Colorado (Friday) and Utah (Sunday) on the Pac-12 Networks in the first half of a two-week homestand (UA hosts Oregon State and Oregon next weekend.)
- Arizona returns home for what will be the first half of a four-match homestand this weekend when it welcomes Colorado and Utah to McKale Center to wrap up the first half of Pac-12 play.
- The Wildcats, who have lost four straight matches all vs. ranked teams, will look to get back on track this weekend. But to do that, UA needs to get healthy. Arizona’s outside hitters have been ravaged by injuries, specifically concussions. The Pac-12 leader in kills, Kendra Dahlke, suffered a concussion at UCLA on Friday and is in concussion protocol this week. Paige Whipple, who’s second on the team with 2.90 kills/set this year, returned last weekend after missing the previous two matches with a concussion. Elizabeth Shelton, who is fourth on the team, averaging 2.14 kills/set, suffered a concussion prior to the Arizona State match and has not played in a conference match this season. Katie Smoot, fifth on the team with 1.98 kills/set, suffered a torn abdomen muscle this season and continues to recover after missing five matches earlier this year.
- Arizona is 14-6 (3-5 Pac-12) on the season; UA has already eclipsed its win total from 2017 (11) and already has twice as many Pac-12 road victories this season (2) as last year (1) in just five tries.
- The Wildcats remain ranked in this week’s AVCA Top 25 at No. 25.
- UA is making its 318th all-time appearance in the poll, 10th most in the NCAA.
- UA is the only team in this week’s AVCA Top 25 to have finished 2017 with an under .500 record; every other team currently ranked won 18 or more matches last season (Arizona went 11-18).
- Earlier this season, head coach Dave Rubio became the second coach in Pac-10/12 history to surpass 500 career wins as a league coach, winning No. 500 vs. New Mexico State (Sept. 14). He’s now at 504 for his career entering this week.
- The Wildcats enter the week 12th in the nation (and third in the Pac-12) in kills/set (14.30). Since sets were reduced from 30 to 25 points in 2008, Arizona’s best offensive mark for a season was 13.94 kills/set, done twice (2015, 2016).
- Senior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke is having a nearly unprecedented start to 2018. Dahlke leads the Pac-12 and is third in the nation, averaging 5.08 kills/set. She has had at least 15 kills in 15 of the 18 matches she has played in this season, including the first 11 matches, the longest 15-plus-kill streak in school history. Dahlke leads the Pac-12 in double-doubles (12) and is second in points/set (5.38).
- Dahlke’s 326 kills this season include No. 1,000 in her career; she became the 18th player in school history reach the 1,000-kill milestone in week 2 vs. Lipscomb and now has climbed into the Arizona top 10 in career kills (8th – 1,256). The senior enters this weekend 17 kills shy of seventh place (Melissa Ferris – 1,273).
- Devyn Cross is the only player in the Pac-12 (min. 50 sets) hitting better than .360 and averaging more than 1.1 blocks/set. Cross ranks fifth in the league in hitting percentage (.371) and 12th in blocks/set (1.10).
- Cross leads the Pac-12 in hitting percentage in league play (.410). Arizona’s other starting middle, Shardonee Hayes, does not have enough attempts to qualify for the rankings, but is hitting .480 in Pac-12 play.
- Much of Arizona’s offensive success to start the season can be attributed to junior setter Julia Patterson, who currently sits fourth in the Pac-12 and 21st in the NCAA, averaging 11.25 assists/set.
- Despite having the conference leader in kills and attempts per set (Kendra Dahlke), Patterson spreads the sets around. Seven different Wildcats average 1.25 kills/set or more (Kendra Dahlke – 5.08, Paige Whipple – 2.90, Devyn Cross – 2.22, Elizabeth Shelton – 2.14, Katie Smoot – 1.98, Candice Denny – 1.49, Shardonee Hayes – 1.26), which is the most in the Pac-12 (min. 3 sets played).
- Arizona’s offense ranks third in the Pac-12 in kills (14.30/set), third in assists (13.05/set) and sixth in hitting percentage (.246) after finishing 11th (12.50 kills/set), 11th (11.56 assists/set) and 12th (.204 hitting percentage), respectively, in the league in 2017.
- Arizona is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2018. Prior to missing the tournament last year, UA had been to seven of the previous eight NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by a Sweet 16 run in 2016. In all, Arizona has been to the NCAA Tournament in 19 of head coach Dave Rubio’s 26 years and 28 times overall.
- Colorado has won eight of the 13 all-time meetings, with Colorado’s eight victories coming all in the last five years, in which the Buffaloes are 8-1. Colorado went 2-0 last season against Arizona, including a five-set win at McKale Center (full recap on page 5).
- Arizona owns a 24-7 all-time record vs. Utah, but the Utes won both matchups last season to end a stretch of six straight Wildcat wins in the series. Utah won the matchup in Tucson in four sets (full recap on page 6), its first win in McKale since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
- Arizona: Dave Rubio (27th year; 504-315)
- Colorado: Jesse Mahoney (3rd year; 92-38)
- Utah: Beth Launiere (29th year; 556-354)
- Colorado (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12) split last weekend at home vs. No. 14 Oregon (L, 1-3) and Oregon State (W, 3-0). It will be looking for its first road victory this season (0-3). The Buffaloes are led by Naghede Abu, who has the top hitting percentage in the conference (.400) on 2.42 kills/set.
- Utah (11-8, 3-5 Pac-12) swept the Oregon schools at home last week, defeating Oregon State in five sets before upsetting No. 14 Oregon in four. The Utes are third in the league in service aces and are led by Dani Drews’ 0.34 aces/set; she also leads the team with 3.75 kills/set.
- Arizona moved down two spots in the AVCA Top 25 this week from No. 23 to No. 25.
- The Wildcats have been ranked 318 weeks in the AVCAP Top 25, dating back to 1982, the 10th-most among all schools in Division I.
- The Pac-12 has seven schools ranked in the top 25, the most among all conferences.
- UA is 1-3 vs. ranked opponents this year.
- The Wildcats checked in at No. 46 in this week’s NCAA RPI.
- At this season’s Wildcat Classic, Arizona head coach Dave Rubio won his 500th match at Arizona, becoming the second coach in Pac-10/12 history to reach 500 career victories as a coach in the league, joining legendary UCLA coach Andy Banachowski (619 wins, 1986-2009) as the only ones to reach the milestone.
- Rubio also joined a legendary group of Arizona coaches to win 500 games as a Wildcat: Mike Candrea (softball; 1986-present), Jerry Kindall (baseball; 1973-1996), Frank Sancet (baseball; 1950-1972), Lute Olson (men’s basketball, 1983-2007) and Fred Enke (men’s basketball; 1925-1961).
- Including his 122 victories at Division II Cal State Bakersfield, where he began his career from 1987-1991, Rubio has won 626 matches. Those 624 victories rank 20th among all active Division I coaches.
- Kendra Dahkle leads the Pac-12 in kills (5.08/set) and double-doubles (12) and is second in points (5.38/set). It is believed that no Wildcat has led the league in all three categories (double-doubles were not tracked by the Pac-12 historically).
- Julia Patterson is fourth in the conference and 24th nationally, averaging 11.55 assists/set. In just 64 career matches, Patterson has already cracked the Arizona career top 10 in assists (10th – 1,866).
- Devyn Cross is fourth in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.371) overall and is hitting .410 in conference matches, the top mark in the league.
- Makenna Martin ranks 10th in the Pac-12, averaging 3.70 digs/set. She led UA in digs in 2017 (2.87/set).
- Arizona was one of the youngest teams in the country a season ago, when UA started three freshmen and two sophomores. A year later, the Wildcats gained experience, but in the big picture, remain one of the youngest teams in the country.
- UA has 13 underclassmen (7 freshmen, 6 sophomores). This, along with UCLA, is the most in the Pac-12.
RUN IT BACK
- Arizona returns all six starters and its libero, seven of 11 returning letterwinners, from last season. The Wildcats are the only team in the Pac-12 to return all six starters from last year.
- The Wildcats return 78% of their kills (1,057-of-1,363), 93% of their assists (1,177-of-1,260), 73% of their digs (1,102-of-1,502) and 76% of their blocks from last season.
- Arizona’s freshman class in 2017 was one of its best in school history. Four freshmen (Paige Whipple – 213; Elizabeth Shelton – 187; Candice Denny – 106; Katie Smoot – 71) had more than 60 kills last year for the first time in school history. Candice Denny had the third best hitting percentage in UA freshman history (.302) and Paige Whipple had the ninth most digs (213) by a freshman in school history to go along with her 213 kills.