Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
THE GAMES (Times MST)
Match 15 | Friday, Sept. 28 (8 p.m.) | at Oregon | Pac-12 Network | Live Stats
Match 16 | Sunday, Sept. 30 (12 p.m.) | at Oregon State | Pac-12 Network | Live Stats
NO. 24 ARIZONA RETURNS TO THE ROAD THIS WEEK
Twenty-fourth ranked Arizona volleyball (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) returns to the road this week to face No. 12 Oregon (9-3, 2-0 Pac-12) and Oregon State (10-4, 0-2 Pac-12), which is receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Top 25. It’s week 2 of the conference season for the Wildcats, who swept Arizona State and lost in four sets at No. 2 Stanford last week to open Pac-12 play. Arizona takes on the Ducks on Friday at 8 p.m. MST and the Beavers on Sunday at noon on the Pac-12 Networks.
- Arizona went 1-1 last weekend to open Pac-12 play with a sweep of Arizona State and a four-set loss at No. 2 Stanford in which the Wildcats became the first unranked team to take a set from Stanford since Nov. 21, 2017 (Washington State).
- Arizona improved to 12-2 on the season, already eclipsing its win total from 2017 (11).
- The Wildcats moved into the AVCA Top 25 this week (No. 24), making their first appearance since the 2017 preseason poll (also No. 24), and 315th appearance overall, 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).
- Arizona’s 12-2 start marks its best 14-match start since 2014. This marks the seventh time in school history that the Wildcats have won at least 12 of their first 14 matches: 1998 (13-1), 2000 (13-1), 2005 (12-2), 2009 (12-2) and 2014 (13-1).
- 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 502 for his career entering this week.
- The Wildcats enter the week sixth in the nation (and second among all Pac-12 teams) in kills/set (14.62). Since sets were reduced from 30 to 25 points in 2008, Arizona’s best offensive mark for a season was 13.94 kills/set in 2015 and 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 5.21 kills/set, and leads the league in points/set (5.47) and double-doubles (9). She has had at least 15 kills in 12 of the 13 matches she has played in this season, including the first 11 matches, the longest 15-plus-kill streak in school history.
- Dahlke’s 245 kills this season include her 1,000th in her career; she became the 18th player in school history reach the 1,000-kill milestone in week 2 vs. Lipscomb. The senior enters this weekend 23 kills shy of cracking the UA top 10 in career kills.
- Much of Arizona’s offensive success to start the season can be attributed to junior setter Julia Patterson, who currently sits third in the Pac-12 and 12th in the NCAA, averaging 11.34 assists/set.
- Devyn Cross is one of two players in the Pac-12 hitting better than .340 and averaging more than 1.30 blocks/set. Cross ranks fifth in the league in blocks (1.31/set) and eighth in hitting percentage (.342).
- Despite having the conference leader in kills and attempts per set (Kendra Dahlke), Patterson spreads the sets around. Seven different Wildcats average more than one kills per set (Kendra Dahlke – 5.21, Paige Whipple – 2.73, Devyn Cross – 2.24, Elizabeth Shelton – 2.14, Katie Smoot – 1.92, Shardonee Hayes – 1.37, Candice Denny – 1.03), which, along with Cal, is the most in the Pac-12 (min. 27 sets).
- Arizona’s offense ranks second in the Pac-12 in kills (14.62/set), third in assists (13.16/set) and sixth in hitting percentage (.251) after finishing 11th (12.50 kills/set), 11th (11.56 assists/set) and 12th (.204 hitting percentage), respectively, in the league in 2017.
- While the hot start for the UA offense has been notable, the Wildcat defense has been impressive as well to start the season. Arizona has held 11 of its last 14 opponents under .200 hitting and currently ranks second in the Pac-12 in opponent hitting percentage (.161). UA is in the top half of the Pac-12 in digs per set (5th – 15.30) and blocks (5th – 2.56).
- Arizona is 7-0 this season at home and has only lost one set in the six matches.
- 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.
- The Wildcats have won 46 of the 66 meetings between Oregon and Arizona. The teams split the two matches last season, with each team winning at home (full recap on page 5). Arizona last won in Eugene in 2016 when the Wildcats took down No. 20 Oregon in five sets.
- Arizona holds a 48-17 all-time lead in the series with Oregon State, but the Beavers have won three straight in the series, including a pair of sweeps in 2017 (full recap on page 6). Oregon State has won the last three matchups in Corvallis; UA’s last victory there came on Oct. 24, 2014 (3-1).
- Arizona: Dave Rubio (27th year; 502-311)
- Oregon: Matt Ulmer (2nd year; 27-15)
- Oregon State: Mark Barnard (3rd year; 43-35)
- No. 12 Oregon (9-3, 2-0 Pac-12) went 2-0 last week with victories over Oregon State (3-1) and No. 22 Washington State (3-2) to open Pac-12 play and has won four straight matches. All three of the Ducks’ losses have come to top-five teams; they’re 1-3 vs. top-five teams this year (#3 Texas – L, #2 Nebraska – L, #1 Minnesota – W, #5 Penn State – L). The matchup between Arizona and Oregon will feature the two top offenses in the Pac-12; Oregon leads the Pac-12, averaging 14.79 kills/set and Arizona is second (14.62).
- Oregon State (10-4, 0-2 Pac-12) went 0-2 to open conference play with losses to No. 12 Oregon (1-3) and No. 13 Washington (2-3), ending a five-match winning streak to wrap up nonconference play. Oregon State has already won a pair of matches vs. ranked opponents this year (at No. 21 Iowa State & at No. 23 San Diego). The Beavers are second in the league in blocks (2.91/set) and third in opponent hitting percentage (.172).
- Arizona moved into the AVCA Top 25 this week at No. 24, its first ranking since preseason of 2017.
- The Wildcats have been ranked 315 weeks in the AVCAP Top 25, dating back to 1982, the 10th-most among all schools in Division I.
- The Pac-12 has nine schools ranked in the top 25, the most among all conferences.
- UA is 0-1 vs. ranked opponents this year.
- 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 624 matches. Those 624 victories rank 20th among all active Division I coaches.
- 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.
- Kendra Dahkle leads the Pac-12 in kills (5.21/set), points (5.47/set) and double-doubles (9). It is believed that no Wildcat has led the league in all three categories (double-doubles were not tracked historically).
- Julia Patterson is third in the nation and 12th nationally, averaging 11.34 assists/set. In just over one year as UA’s starting setter, Patterson has already cracked the Arizona career top 10 in assists (1,612).
- Devyn Cross is fifth in the Pac-12 in blocks (1.31/set) and eighth in hitting percentage (.342). Thirty-three of Cross’ 61 blocks have come in the last five matches, a stretch in which she’s averaging 1.97 blocks/set.
- Makenna Martin ranks ninth in the Pac-12, averaging 3.83 digs/set. Martin led UA in digs in 2017 (2.87/set).
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.
DAHLKE LOOKS TO LEAVE PLACE IN HISTORY
- After leading the Wildcats in total kills in each of the last two seasons, Kendra Dahlke is looking to rewrite the Wildcat history books. In week 2, Dahlke became the 18th player in school history to record 1,000 career kills.