Volleyball sweeps the weekend

Talk about starting out on the right foot.


Arizona volleyball (3-0) swept their opening road weekend by defeating Louisville, Belmont and Pittsburgh at the Sheraton Riverside Cardinal Classic. Head coach Dave Rubio and his team racked up three tallies in the win column to begin the season as Arizona won the tournament. It was the Wildcats' sixth straight season-opening victory and the first season opener road win since 2004.


Though Arizona struggled away from McKale Center last season, in Louisville, Ky. this wekend the Wildcats took the opener from the Louisville Cardinals 3-0 with the final set scores standing at 25-23, 25-20 and 25-23.


""I think it will be different,"" junior outside hitter Whitney Dosty said about playing on the road. ""We have everyone coming back and a whole new attitude approaching our road games. We need to focus on them because the road wins are going to be key this year.""


Junior setter Paige Weber totaled record assists for the Wildcats, consistently setting up outside hitters Dana Hutchinson and Tiffany Owens, the latter having a match high of 12 kills.


Arizona fought through three service errors to take the first set from the Cardinals (1-1) before hitting .433 in the second set.


""When we're not being able to be on our serve we have to rely on our other strengths, like passing and attacking,"" Dosty said. ""When one thing breaks down, the other parts have to be there to pick it up.""


""It's always a little nerve-racking going into a match against an opponent that you don't see much of,"" Rubio said. ""But I thought our girls played tough against a very physical team in Louisville.""


The Wildcats played a double header on Saturday, facing the Belmont Bruins (0-3) and Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1) to complete their matches for the weekend. Neither team could handle Arizona, which steadily fed Owens and Hutchinson, even hitting double-digit kills against the Bruins.


Against the Panthers, Arizona lost its only set of the weekend, falling in the second game against Pittsburgh. They would rebound 25-23 and 26-24 in the next two sets to remain perfect in the early season.


""I thought we played well against a very tough team in Pittsburgh,"" Rubio said. ""I was pleased with how we were able to pull out the win, especially since each set we won basically came down to deuce.""


Weber set the bar with 47 assists and Owens paced the Wildcats by hitting .368 and scoring 17 kills.


The Wildcats defeated Louisville and Belmont, two teams that were selected to the 2008 NCAA tournament. This particular pre-conference schedule was designed by Rubio to test Arizona's ability to compete.


""I think it's a great start, especially being able to win instead of just seeing where we match up,"" Dosty said. ""It starts us off on a good foot.""


The Wildcats continue play during the annual Wildcat Classic beginning Friday, Sept. 4, at McKale Center.


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