Volleyball prepares for Wildcat Classic

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona's Elizabeth Shelton (17) readies a spike against Grand Canyon University on Sept. 1.

Arizona volleyball will be back in action this weekend in McKale Center hosting the Wildcat Classic after cancellation of the FSU/FAMU Classic in Tallahassee, Florida, due to Hurricane Irma. The Wildcats will be welcoming William and Mary, New Mexico State and Illinois State to Tucson.

Setting up the ball first in the Wildcat Classic will be a matchup between New Mexico State and Illinois State on Friday, Sept. 15. The Wildcats will then follow up with a match against the William and Mary Tribe.

William and Mary enters McKale Center on a four-match losing streak with a record of 2-8. For the Tribe, senior outside hitter Sydney Biniak leads the way with 150 kills to go along with 164.5 points. Biniak will be a key to success for W&M this weekend and a threat to Arizona junior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke, who has posted 57 kills overall.

New Mexico State comes to town riding a four-match winning streak, sitting at a 6-3 record. Of their nine matches so far this season, only one loss came on the road for the Aggies, losing to Notre Dame back in August. Junior setter Briana Ainsworth comes into the matches averaging 6.38 assists per set, with 204 overall.

“We are preparing for the tournament this weekend,” said David Rubio, Arizona volleyball head coach. “New Mexico State will be the best team that we play since we started. It will be a good test and get us ready for the conference the following Thursday against ASU.”

Illinois State has a Tucson native on their squad, junior setter Jordan Weatherless, who attended Ironwood Ridge High School. Freshman setter Stef Jankiewicz will be a key player for the Redbirds, having posted 359 total assists.

For the Wildcats, they will look to build upon a successful set of matches two weeks ago, when they came out of the Cactus Classic with two wins out of three matches. Sophomore setter Julia Patterson is up to 230 assists, while Dahlke leads the team with 66 points. Not far behind Dahlke is freshman outside hitter Paige Whipple, who sits at 55.5 points to go along with 46 kills.

“We have so many things to work on because we are such a young group,” Rubio said. “I have been really pleased with practice and happy the players are applying themselves. The thing we need to be better at is paying attention to detail in practice, which leads to inconsistencies. I think we are working on the right things.”

Arizona starts the weekend off on Friday, Sept. 15, taking on William and Mary at 12:30 p.m. followed by a matchup against the Aggies at 7 p.m. The Wildcats will wrap up the Wildcat Classic on Saturday, Sept. 16, against Illinois State at 1 p.m.


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