Seniors Snuka & Mau get set for final NCAA ride - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Seniors Snuka & Mau get set for final NCAA ride

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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics Courtesy: Arizona Athletics

Senior U of A volleyball players Penina Snuka and Kalei Mau spoke to News 4 Tucson before heading out to East Lansing, Michigan for their last NCAA tournament.  To hear from them, you can tune in to News 4 Tucson at 6 and 10 p.m.

Here's More game notes from ArizonaAthletics.com : 

Arizona (18-14, 10-10 Pac-12) vs. Cleveland State (25-5, 14-2 Horizon League)
Friday, Dec. 2 | 3 p.m. MST
Live Stream | Live Stats | Live Updates | Arizona Notes | Cleveland State Notes | Tournament Central | NCAA Bracket

Friday, Dec. 2
3 p.m. MST         G1: Arizona vs. Cleveland State
5:30 p.m. MST   G2: Fairfield at Michigan State
Saturday, Dec. 3
5:30 p.m. MST   G3: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner
Live Video: msuspartans.com
Live Stats: ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/volleyball-women/d1
Live Updates: Twitter: @ArizonaVBall
THIS WEEK: Rewarded for its 18-14 (10-10 Pac-12) regular season, the Arizona volleyball team earned its fourth consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking Arizona's seventh trip in the last eight years and 28th time overall. The Wildcats will travel to National No. 9 seed Michigan State to face first-round opponent Cleveland State on Friday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. MST. Michigan State will take on Fairfield with the winners meeting in the second round on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. MST.

  • It's four straight years, and 28 overall, dancing for the Cats. Head coach Dave Rubio has led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in 19 of his 25 seasons.
  • Penina Snuka was named Pac-12 Setter of the Year after leading the conference in total assists for the second straight year (1,307). Snuka averages 10.71 assists and 3.00 digs per set and is second in the Pac-12 in double-doubles (20), one behind the leader; Snuka is trying to lead the league in double-doubles in all four of her seasons.
  • Seniors Penina Snuka and Kalei Mau were named All-Pac-12 for the second straight year. Mau is second in the conference in kills (4.03/set) after finishing third last year (4.33/set).
  • Laura Larson was named Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. Larson, whose 472 digs this season are third in Arizona history, has a 3.968 GPA while majoring in molecular and cellular biology.
  • Arizona finished the regular season with eight RPI Top 50 wins, more than all but seven teams in the country.
  • Arizona has played 16 matches vs. ranked opponents this season. After starting the year 0-5 vs. ranked competition, the Cats have won seven of their last 11 vs. ranked opponents. Those seven wins, all in the last eight weeks, vs. ranked teams are the most in a season since 2005 for Arizona. Arizona recently completed a stretch of 12 matches in which it played 10 ranked opponents; such is life in the Pac-12.
  • Much of the reason Arizona has turned things around can be traced to its health. Arizona's top three scorers (Kendra Dahlke - concussion; Kalei Mau - dislocated shoulder & slipped disc; Katarina Pilepic - broken finger) have all missed extended time this year. The trio have been in the starting lineup together just 19 times this season, including the last 16 matches.
  • After leading the Pac-12 in digs each of the last three seasons, Arizona is tied for second this year, averaging 15.72 digs/set. Laura Larson is seventh in the Pac-12, averaging 3.86 digs/set.
  • Kendra Dahlke and Kalei Mau are both in the top four in the Pac-12 in kills, making them the best offensive duo in the Pac-12. Mau is second with 4.03 kills/set while Dahlke is fourth with 3.97 kills/set. No other team in the conference has two players in the top 10.
  • Arizona's success this season can be traced to where it all starts: serve and pass. In Arizona's 18 wins, UA is averaging 1.39 aces/set while in losses, the Cats are averaging just 0.84 per set. Additionally, in losses the Cats have allowed 1.04 aces/set compared to just 0.71/set in victories. Arizona has 125 service errors in its 14 losses.
  • Arizona's opponents went 429-239 (.642), making the Wildcats' schedule the sixth hardest in the country.
  • Kendra Dahlke is enjoying a breakout campaign in her sophomore year. After averaging 1.57 kills/set as a freshman with four double-digit kill matches, Dahlke is second on the Wildcats with 3.97 kills/set and has had 10-or-more kills in 26 of the 30 matches she has played in. Dahkle is third in the Pac-12 in kills.
  • 2016 marks the 25th season as the head coach of the Wildcats for Dave Rubio, the conference's active leader victories as a Pac-10/12 coach (475). In 2016, the team will celebrate his quarter century of excellence, which includes a 2000 Pac-10 championship and a trip to the 2001 Final Four.

Michigan State: The 15th-ranked Spartans (24-8, 13-7 Big Ten) earned the tournament's overall No. 9 seed following a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten ... MSU is heading to their sixth straight NCAA Tournament and have won five-straight first-round NCAA Tournament games ... Alyssa Garvelink is a force for the Spartans, averaging 2.43 kills on .357 hitting to go along with 1.44 blocks per set ... Michigan State hits .241 as a team and averages 2.50 blocks/set.
Series history: Arizona is 2-1 all-time vs. Michigan State, but the Spartans won the last meeting between the two teams, a first-round NCAA Tournament game in 2011.
Cleveland State: The Vikings (25-5, 14-2 Pac-12) won their second straight Horizon League Championship with its five-set win in the league championship match ... Cleveland State won both the regular season and Horizon League title ... CSU is led by Alexi Middlebrooks, who averages 2.76 kills on .320 hitting and 1.01 blocks per set.
Series history: This will be the first meeting.
Fairfield: The Stags (28-5, 18-0 MAAC) come into the NCAA Tournament winners of 22 straight matches, the longest active winning streak in the country ... This is the second straight year in the NCAA Tournament for Fairfield ... The Stags have two players with more than four kills per set (Skyler Day - 4.35 & Megan O'Sullivan - 4.19).
Series history: This will be the first meeting.
RANKINGS: Arizona is receiving votes in this week's AVCA Top 25.
SETTING THE TONE: Pac-12 Setter of the Year Penina Snuka has excelled in her three-plus seasons as the Wildcats' setter. Snuka has been an honorable mention All-American each of the last two seasons. Snuka has led the Pac-12 in double-doubles in each of her three seasons at Arizona (2013 - 19, 2014 - 25, 2015 - 22) and has 20 in 2016, second in the conference. Snuka is currently second in Arizona history with 5,086 assists and is Arizona's top digging setter (second overall) with 1,575 digs.
CAN YOU DIG IT? After leading the conference in digs each of the last three years, Arizona is tied for second this year, averaging 15.72 digs/set. Laura Larson is seventh in the league, averaging 3.86 digs/set. The senior has double-digit digs in 43 of Arizona's last 47 matches. Larson's 472 digs this season rank fourth in a season in Arizona history. Candace Nicholson's record 512 in 2013 is in striking distance for Larson, potentially depending on an NCAA Tournament run.
WHAT SOPHOMORE SLUMP? After averaging 1.57 kills/set as a part-time player in 2015, Kendra Dahlke has burst onto the scene in a big way as a sophomore. Dahlke is second on the team with 3.97 kills/set and has had double-digit kills in 26 of the 30 matches she has played in. In 2015, she had four total double-digit kill efforts. Dahlke is fourth in the Pac-12 in kills/set and fifth in points/set (4.38).
PUTTING THE TEAM ON HER BACK: In the 57 matches that Kalei Mau has played in since the start of 2015, she has led the team (or tied for the team lead) in kills in 43 of those matches. Mau's 14 20-plus kill matches in that span rank sixth in a career in Arizona history.
ACE IN THE HOLE: Arizona is tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with 1.14 aces per set after finishing in the bottom third of the conference each of the last three years. The Wildcats' 139 aces are 35 more than their 2015 total. Seven Wildcats have double digit aces: Penina Snuka (31), Laura Larson (21), Kalei Mau (19), Makenna Martin (15), Reilly Killeen (15), Katarina Pilepic (11) and Kendra Dahlke (11).
PERFECT 10: Arizona's 2016 recruiting class was ranked as the 10th best class in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. The Cats have seven freshmen, including two top-100 recruits (#60 Shardonee Hayes & #67 Julia Patterson).
A CLASS OF THEIR OWN: Arizona's senior class has won 81 matches, making it the winningest in Arizona history since the 2003 class won 90. These seniors also qualified for four NCAA Tournaments, the first time since the 2005 class capped off Arizona's run of 10 straight NCAA Tournaments.
FOLLOW THE CATS: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Arizona volleyball team on its various social media accounts to keep up with the Cats all season long.
Twitter: @ArizonaVBall
Instagram: @ArizonaVBall
YouTube: Arizona Volleyball
UP NEXT: The team that goes 2-0 in East Lansing will head to Lincoln Nebraska for the Regional Semifinal and Regional Final rounds.

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