“”:http://No. 18 Arizona volleyball returns to action this Friday when it travels to take on No. 20 UCLA at Pepperdine University in Malibu. The match will take place at Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse due to the Sunset Boulevard water main break, which caused flooding inside Pauley Pavilion earlier this summer.
Fresh off a gritty five-set victory over intrastate rival No. 19 ASU, the Wildcats (12-1, 1-0 Pac-12 Conference) hope to keep their six-game winning streak alive with a strong showing in Southern California.
While Arizona has won four of the past six matchups against UCLA — with three of those four coming when UCLA was ranked as a top-five team — the Bruins dominate the series history with a 54-22-1 game advantage over the UA.
Last season, Arizona split the series with UCLA, serving up a three-set sweep at home just to be swept 3-0 in Westwood later in the season.
In the Wildcats’ duel against ASU this Wednesday, senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon committed 15 of Arizona’s 31 attack errors and two of its five service errors. Statistically, it was her worst match of the year.Despite the fact that she recorded her fourth double-double of the season, led the team in kills (20) and tied her season-high of 15 digs, she finished the night with an abysmal .066 hitting percentage.
“I don’t think we’re going to get away with too many matches without Madi scoring,” UA head coach Dave Rubio said after the match against ASU. “She just couldn’t get anything going offensively tonight.”
Rubio said that against UCLA, the team would have to be more aggressive and do a better job at scoring and being stronger in the middle.
While redshirt freshman middle blocker McKenzie Jacobson and sophomore outside hitter Ashley Harris have given the Wildcats needed support in the middle against ASU, Rubio said the squad still feels the void left by senior middle blocker Rachel Rhoades. As of Wednesday night, Rhoades has still not yet been cleared by Arizona personnel after suffering a concussion two weeks ago.
The Bruins (10-2, 1-0 Pac-12), who most recently swept No. 9 USC in straight sets (25-23, 25-13, 27-25) at Galen Center this Tuesday, will return home to face the UA with added confidence and momentum.
“They’ve got maybe the best scorer in the country with Karsta Lowe,” Rubio added. “She’s fantastic and pretty impressive, so we’re going to have to try and slow her down if we can.”
Lowe is a averaging a Pac-12 leading 6.26 kills per set and ranks No. 1 in the conference in scoring with an average of seven points per set. Additionally, Bruins senior setter Julie Consani leads the Pac-12 in assists (12.24 per game).
“I think it’s going to be a tough matchup,” Kingdon said. “If we’re able to take care of business with [Lowe] and if we play a little cleaner than we did [against ASU], then we should have a good chance at beating them.”
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