No. 19 Arizona begins second half of Pac-12 schedule against Stanford and Cal

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Jesus Barrera | The Daily Wildcat

Middle blocker McKenzie Jacobson (18) leaps and misses a block on Friday, Oct. 2. Arizona will look to sharpen its game in the second half of Pac-12 Conference play to get back into conference contention.

Arizona volleyball kicks off the second half of Pac-12 Conference play this weekend, traveling to the Bay Area to take on No. 7 Stanford on Friday and California on Sunday. No. 19 Arizona has a 4-6 conference record and is 14-8 overall.

The Wildcats will hope to come out their recent slump and finally get over the hump against a top ranked opponent.

“We haven’t been really that sharp the last couple of weeks,” said Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio. “It’s been hard for everybody.”

Though the Wildcats have struggled the last couple of weeks, Rubio said he thinks his team is getting back on track and he thinks practices have gone very well this week.

“I’m looking forward to going to the Bay Area [to see] if we can play at the level we had played and maybe a little bit better,” Rubio said.

Limiting errors will be one of the things Arizona will need to do this weekend if it hopes to be successful. Rubio said he witnessed the most errors he’s ever seen his team make in a four-game set against Colorado last Friday.

Middle blocker McKenzie Jacobson agrees with Rubio that errors have been a huge cause of Arizona’s recent struggles.

“We haven’t been very consistent in games with errors,” Jacobson said. “We’re making a lot of them. I think we’re trying new shots; incorporating what we work on in practice into games can be nerve-racking.”

Arizona must be able to limit the amount of errors it commits to have a successful second half, but it will also be important for the Wildcats to be able to close out matches against top-ranked opponents.

The Wildcats had two opportunities to close out their match with Stanford. Arizona was up 23-22 in the fourth set and 13-12 in the fifth, but it squandered the lead both times.

This is not the only time the Wildcats have been close and have been unable to close out a match. Arizona has been competitive in all of its losses, aside from a straight set loss to UCLA. The Wildcats lost a tight five-set match to Texas and lost in four sets to Ohio State, ASU, Washington, USC and Colorado.

“At the time, when the moments are the biggest, we [have] to play our best,” Rubio said. “I think we’ll do that. I know we’ll play well against Stanford. I’m excited about playing them and we’ll certainly be ready to play.”

The Wildcats will need to clean up their play with a plethora of ranked teams still left on the Pac-12 schedule. Arizona will face No. 1 USC, No. 5 Washington, No. 8 UCLA and No. 14 ASU over the next month.

Friday’s matchup at Stanford will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and begin at 8 p.m.


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