Arizona volleyball concludes regular season against Oregon State and ASU
Arizona middle blocker Halli Amaro (3) prepares to set the ball in McKale Center on Sunday, Nov. 8. Amaro is the only four-year Arizona senior currently on the roster.
After a weekend that saw Arizona volleyball take a set from No. 1 USC and beat No. 11 UCLA in five sets, the Wildcats have little time to relax and regroup before their final two games of the regular season.
No. 23 Arizona will travel to Corvallis, Oregon to take on Oregon State (5-23, 3-15 Pac-12 Conference) tonight before immediately flying home for a Friday showdown against rival ASU (19-10, 8-10).
With the short amount of time between matches, Arizona head coach Dave Rubio is doing his best to make sure his team is still well prepared.
“When you’re playing four matches in seven days, the sense of urgency—part of it is trying to be well prepared for each match—is really hard,” Rubio said. “The urgency is just ... we got so much to do in such a short amount of time.”
Beating the Bruins on Sunday likely guaranteed Arizona a spot in the NCAA Tournament, as its RPI ranking moved up nine spots to No. 41. One thing the Wildcats were missing was a win over a top-ranked opponent.
Not only is the matchup against ASU the final match of the season, it will also be the final game in McKale Center for Arizona’s four seniors: Anna Panagiotakopoulos, MacKenzie Kleespies, Halli Amaro and Nikki Attea, who was just named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Amaro is the only senior on the roster this season to have been with the program all four years. Amaro, aware her career as a Wildcat is coming to a close, is trying not to think about it too much.
“You try not to focus on it being your last two Pac-12 games and then going into the tournament and then not really knowing what you’re guaranteed,” Amaro said. “[The seniors] can’t really look at that because it’s not about us. I think we still need to focus on the process of getting better everyday and taking that into the tournament and into the next Pac-12 matches.”
The Los Alamitos, California, native said Rubio is someone she has taken a lot from. Amaro said she has learned that you can’t expect to win if you haven’t trained to win, and that Rubio has taught her to have a positive attitude, regardless of how she feels.
“[Coach Rubio] thinks that you can really ultimately decide how you feel, waking up every day and going about life,” Amaro said. “Every day is still hard; every day you get up, and you’re still tired. But I think ultimately, you wake up and you decide how you’re going to feel that day. I think that’s another thing that I’ll take with me.”
Though the Wildcats have their rival ASU coming to town Friday along with senior night and the NCAA Tournament quickly approaching, all of Arizona’s focus will be on beating Oregon State tonight.
Arizona has yet to play the Beavers this season, but lost to ASU 3-1 in Tempe to open Pac-12 play on Sept. 24.
Oregon State is at the bottom of the conference standings and comes into the match against the Wildcats having suffered five straight losses. ASU, on the other hand, has dropped to sixth in the Pac-12 after starting the season 15-0.
Watch Arizona take on Oregon State at 8 p.m. tonight on a live stream on Arizona Athletics, and ASU on Pac-12 Arizona at 3 p.m. on Friday in McKale Center.
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