The one thing they all had in common — the number 12. Arizona, Washington and Washington State all started out the 2009 season with 12 consecutive wins.
Although all three schools now have different records, just last weekend there was the potential for a meeting of three undefeated teams. While this weekend no longer has that potential — both Arizona and Washington State lost their last games — it does mark another challenge for the Wildcats in the Pacific 10 Conference.
No. 18 Arizona (12-1, 1-1) volleyball makes its third road trip of the season as they travel to the Northwest to take on No. 3 Washington and Washington State. The trip marks the first time the Wildcats will play on the road against a conference opponent this season.
And this will be the first time the Wildcats will face an opponent ranked nationally in the top 10 this year.
""We know they're both very high-level teams,"" senior libero Alanna Resch said. ""We've been working a lot on different things this year, so when we play higher-level teams, it's crucial that we do the things we've been practicing.""
Arizona will have to bounce back after splitting the first week of the conference season at home. Although last year's trip to Washington does not bring fond memories for the Wildcats, head coach Dave Rubio hopes Arizona's fortunes aren't as cloudy as the Seattle sky.
""The Washinton trip is always … it's a long trip,"" Rubio said. ""The competition level is very good.""
The No. 3 Huskies (12-0, 2-0) have not dropped a set this season. After sweeping the Oregon schools last weekend, Washington sits tied at the top of the Pac-10 with California, although the Golden Bears have dropped three games this season.
Washington's consistent attack, averaging .324 this season, is led by hitter Jill Collymore. Senior libero Tamari Miyashiro needs just 24 more digs to move into third-place in Pac-10 history.
The Cougars of Washington State (12-1, 1-1), along with the Wildcats, are among six teams tied at second place in the conference with a current conference record of 1-1. Jackie Albright is the Cougars' top scorer with a 3.42 kills per set average, although Washington State takes the approach of a spread offense. They have five players who have registered over 100 kills on the year so far.
The last time the Wildcats and Cougars clashed was the 2008 game when the Wildcats fell 3-2.
For the Wildcats, the challenge will be to see how well they perform on the road.
""I'm looking forward to the challenge and seeing how we respond this week,"" Rubio said. ""The Washington schools provide something a little bit different for us.
Senior middle blocker Jacy Norton missed three days of practice this week due to illness. She tested negative for the H1N1 virus and will make the trip to Washington this weekend with the team.