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Arizona volleyball moves into Top 25, soccer drops to No. 23

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

After a strong start to the season, the Arizona volleyball team finds itself in the Top 25 for the first time since the 2017 preseason.

The Wildcats (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) are ranked 24th in the latest AVCA Poll.

Arizona went 11-1 in non-conference play, then won its Pac-12 opener last Thursday against ASU, sweeping the Sun Devils in straight sets.

While the Wildcats did lose to No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, they were extremely competitive, leading at one point in all four sets. (Our write-up about that performance can be found here.)

Arizona has been led by senior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke, who leads the Pac-12 in kills (245) and kills per set (5.21).

Middle blocker Devyn Cross is fifth in the conference in blocks per set (1.31) and eighth in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.342).

Junior setter Julia Patterson leads the conference in assists (567), averaging 11.34 per set, the third-best mark in the Pac-12 and 12th in the NCAA.

The Wildcats’ stay in the Top 25 could be a short one, as they have a difficult road trip coming up. They are set to face No. 11 Oregon on Friday then Oregon State on Sunday. The Beavers received votes in this week’s AVCA poll.

Stanford (2), USC (T-13), Washington (T-13), UCLA (18), Washington State (22), Colorado (23), and Utah (25) are also ranked.

Arizona soccer falls to No. 23

Arizona (7-2, 0-1 Pac-12) has fallen from No. 19 to No. 23 in the latest TopDrawerSoccer poll after losing a road game to No. 1 Stanford.

That loss, a 2-0 defeat, snapped UA’s seven-game winning streak. It was a one-sided affair, though that is expected when you play the Cardinal, who have not lost since August of 2017.

The Wildcats had nothing to lose going into that game, but they do this weekend when they host Utah (3-5-1) and Colorado (9-0-1) on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

These matches are critical. For one, they are at home and winning at home is important in the ultra-competitive Pac-12. For another, Arizona plays No. 2 USC and No. 13 UCLA on the road the following weekend, two places they have never had much success.

So if the Wildcats lose to Utah and/or Colorado, there will be immense pressure on them to win in the latter half of conference play. But if they beat Utah and Colorado, they will have more leeway and any points they pick up in Southern California would be an added bonus.

Utah has the second-worst record in the conference, but Colorado is one of nine remaining unbeaten teams in the country. The Buffaloes are ranked 18th, outscoring their opponents 32-3 this season. They beat Oregon State — by far the worst team in the Pac-12 — by six goals to open conference play last weekend.

CU junior forward Tatum Barton leads the Pac-12 in goals (11) while redshirt senior Jorian Baucom is tied for second in the conference with seven.

Meanwhile, junior midfielder Taylor Kornieck leads the Pac-12 in assists (9) and CU goalkeepers Scout Watson and Jalen Tompkins are first and second in goals-against average, respectively.

That all sounds good, but the Buffaloes might be fool’s gold. Women’s soccer analyst Chris Henderson does not have them in his Field of 64 right now because of a poor non-conference schedule.

Colorado is currently 60th in RPI.

Henderson currently projects Arizona as a tournament team, but not as a top-4 seed. The Wildcats are 36th in RPI.

In other Pac-12 soccer news, Washington State is in the Top 10 for the first time ever, coming in at No. 8 in the TDS Poll.

The Cougars (8-0) opened conference play with a stunning 1-0 road victory at then-No. 8 UCLA. More impressive: WSU is doing this without star goalkeeper Ella Dederick, who has not played since suffering a knee injury on Sept. 6. (Unfortunately, it is believed to be a season-ending injury.)

Dederick, like Arizona’s Lainey Burdett, was named a top-10 goalkeeper in the country by TopDrawerSoccer prior to the season. Burdett had 11 saves against Stanford, matching a career high.

USC (8-0-1) moved up to No. 2 after crushing Washington, 3-0.