Arizona volleyball faces tough weekend against UCLA and USC

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Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona hitter Nikki Attea (22) spikes against Oregon in McKale Center on Sunday, Sept. 27. Attea will face old friend Jordan Anderson of UCLA this weekend.

The schedule only gets more difficult for No. 14 Arizona volleyball after losing to No. 4 Washington in four sets and edging out Washington State in five. The Wildcats will take on No. 12 UCLA on Friday and No. 1 USC on Sunday. This will be the sixth consecutive week Arizona has faced a team ranked in the top 25.

Arizona (13-5) will continue the quest to get a win against an opponent ranked higher than it is, as the team has dropped tightly contested matches to Ohio State, Texas, ASU, Stanford and, most recently, Washington.

The Wildcats will also look to string together their first win streak since getting off to a fast 8-0 start.

Arizona will have to maintain UCLA outside hitter Jordan Anderson. Anderson was a former teammate and very close friend of Nikki Attea when they both played together at West Virginia for two years before transferring to UCLA and Arizona, respectively.

“It’s going to be weird seeing her on the other side of the net,” Attea said. “I think we’re both excited and are just focusing on the game, and then we’ll see each other after.”

Attea also noted how much Anderson has developed and improved, saying that she saw a lot of growth and maturity in their two years together. Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said he has similar feelings about Anderson’s game.

“She has a very smooth game: fast, explosive, really athletic, good jumper and plays a lot [bigger] and a lot more powerful than she was,” Rubio said.

Anderson is part of a UCLA passing attack that is very explosive—one that Arizona must maintain to stay within striking distance.

“They’re the best passing team in the league,” Rubio said. “They’re going to be insistent all the time. We’ll need to be able to defend those guys.”

Rubio said the serve and pass games will be difference makers in both weekend matchups. Rubio said he believes his team lost to Washington because it did not serve and pass well enough.

“I think, without question, whoever wins the serve and pass game is going to win the match,” Rubio said. “Those two skills will influence the outcome of rallies. Whoever can really handle that challenge will be the team that can really come out on top.”


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