Arizona volleyball takes on Colorado and Utah after rough couple of weeks

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Jose Toro | The Daily Wildcat Arizona outside hitter Paige Whipple (10) falls on the court during the UA-Colorado volleyball match on Oct. 15 in McKale Center.

Coming off only its second win in October, Arizona volleyball finally has some momentum heading into the weekend. Another reason for the Wildcats to be optimistic going into the second half of Pac-12 play is that they play Colorado on Friday in Boulder, a team they swept the last time they faced off. Sunday should come as a challenge though, as Arizona plays No. 17 Utah, a team looking forward to continuing their strong season.

Arizona must continue to have players elevate its game and have its leaders continue to play exceptional, as Shardonee Hayes, Whittnee Nihipali and Elizabeth Shelton are still on the disabled list due to concussions. So far, it has been a challenge for the Wildcats to replicate the production that those players consistently bring, which is why Paige Whipple has had little room for error. Over the past five matches, Whipple has had double digit kills in each match. With the additional strong play from Katie Smoot and Emi Pua’a as of recent, Arizona has at least competed in each match.

Colorado has struggled immensely this season. They hope to snap out of their 10-game losing streak and earn their first in-conference victory. The Buffaloes have a winning record at home this season (6-5), which is a rare plus for the team this year.

Senior Justine Spann leads the team with 273 kills and 21 service aces and sophomore Jenna Ewert leads the team with 660 assists. If the Buffaloes want to turn their fortune around, these two players will certainly need to be active.

Utah has been another juggernaut team in the Pac-12 this year, hoping to stay healthy and continue their high level of success for the remained of the season and into post-play. Junior Dani Drews has been nearly unstoppable, accumulating 373 kills (4.55 k/s) this season, which has established her as one of the most lethal outside hitters in the country.

Senior Brianna Doehrmann has taken care of business on the defensive side, leading the team with 309 digs.  The factor that might give Arizona the most trouble, though, is Utah’s net defense, Redshirt senior Berkeley Oblad and redshirt sophomore Phoebe Grace have a combined 192 blocks on the year.

This weekend is a fresh start for Arizona to make the best out of their second half of in-conference play and more time for their key players to recover from injury. The next match is Friday, Nov. 1, at the CU Events Center.


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