With only a few weeks of regular season play left, the No. 20 Washington volleyball team stays on the road to face the Arizona schools for the second time of the year.
Though UW managed to split the weekend after suffering one of its toughest losses of the season — during which it recorded its lowest hitting percentage of the season — Washington heads to the desert in serious need of a boost to its conference record.
For the first time in a couple years, the Huskies (17-7, 9-5 Pac-12) aren’t cruising at the top of the conference to close down the regular season. With a 9-5 record, UW sits fourth in the Pac-12 standings heading into its games against Arizona and Arizona State.
A pair of wins this weekend, plus losses from No. 8 Stanford, No. 14 Oregon, and USC, would greatly improve UW’s chances at ending Pac-12 play at the top of conference standings.
When Washington hosted the Arizona schools earlier this season, it recorded a sweep over Arizona and a five-set loss to ASU.
The Huskies start the weekend with a bitter face-off against the Wildcats, who recently earned just their third conference win of the year in a five-set match against Oregon State. Arizona outside hitter Sofia Maldonado Diaz has been consistent in recent matches, and has exceptionally excelled against top teams in the conference. She hit 0.444 in Arizona’s match against USC this past weekend, and 0.342 against No. 14 Oregon on Oct. 28.
After Friday’s trip to Tucson, the Huskies travel to Tempe to face the Sun Devils (11-15, 5-9 Pac-12) in what is projected to be a slightly more difficult match for Washington.
While Arizona State has few conference wins under its belt, especially against higher ranked teams, it was able to narrowly defeat UW earlier in the season.
The teams played fairly even in the match, with each set being determined by only a few points. Some uncharacteristic offensive mistakes, combined with a tough ASU defense, caused the Huskies to drop the match after five sets.
Since then, the Sun Devils have lost four of their past five matches, and have only won a combined four sets in said five matches.
Looking to get its momentum back and end its time spent outside Washington state during the regular season, UW will face Arizona on Friday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m., and ASU on Sunday, Nov. 13 at noon.
Reach reporter Madison Rockwell at email@example.com. Twitter: @madisonroc18
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