Arizona volleyball to host Cal and Stanford

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Nick Trujillo | The Daily Wildcat Senior Emi Pua’a (33) digs a spiked ball and enables the team to score off the next hit.

When it seemed Arizona volleyball finally had some momentum after a demanding victory over Oregon, they dropped two close matches this past weekend against Colorado and Utah. With the Wildcats at 12-12 on their disappointing season, largely due to injuries, their road ahead gets even tougher as they face No. 20 University of California, Berkeley and No. 5 Stanford this weekend.

No key players are expected to return from injury this weekend, as Elizabeth Shelton, Whittnee Nihipali and Shardonee Hayes are still out with concussions.  Even with Paige Whipple and Katie Smoot stepping up as leaders, stuffing the stat sheet week after week, their individual play has not transitioned into many victories.  Arizona only has two conference victories on the year and clearly seems to be looking on the outside of the NCAA Tournament.

Despite their absence of star power, the team has refused to play in despair, making most contests close.  If the team continues to play as usual, a strong effort should be expected against two of the most elite teams in the country this weekend.  

California (18-4) has proven to not only be a consistent team, but also one of the most talented units in the country. Last time they played Arizona, they did not give up a single set. Considering the Golden Bears have taken care of business on the road (6-2), they expect to play at full strength at the McKale Center this weekend. Junior Mima Mirkovic has led the team 270 kills and junior Isabel Potter leads them with 629 assists.

Stanford (16-4) has arguably been the best team in the nation this season. They have played every facet of the game exceptionally well and are trying to stay in full form as the NCAA Tournament is around the corner. They have had 159 more kills than their opponents on the season, and that is largely due to the play of the senior duo Audriana Fitzmorris and Kathryn Plummer, who are responsible for 401 of the kills this season.

Arizona volleyball must give its all to try to seek revenge against two of the Pac-12 powerhouses. Their next match is tonight against No. 20 California at the McKale Center.


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