Every match in the 22-game Pac-12 volleyball schedule has postseason implications. But for an Oregon team that inexplicably fell to cellar-dweller Utah last Friday, this weekend’s visit to Arizona State (5-18, 1-13 Pac-12) holds exceptional [email protected]@http://www.thesundevils.com/sports/w-volley/stats/2011-2012/11asu23.html@@ @@http://www.goducks.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=500&SPID=234&[email protected]@

The No. 20 Ducks (15-7, 8-6 Pac-12) have little margin for error in their quest to qualify for the NCAA Tournament after failing to do so last year. With only eight matches left in the season, Oregon can ill afford to lose to another team below them in the conference [email protected]@http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=4287&SPID=234&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205326659&DB_OEM_ID=500@@

“When you start not taking your opponents as if they can beat you every time, you lose,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said. “We’ve now made this weekend crucial.”@@http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=113244@@

Oregon will first face Arizona State tonight before visiting Tucson on Sunday. Although the Sun Devils haven’t had a good season, they’ve traditionally played the Ducks tough. They took a set off of Oregon when the teams played in Eugene earlier this year and pushed the Ducks to five sets when the teams met in Tempe a year [email protected]@http://www.goducks.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=500&SPID=234&[email protected]@

“I think they’re really scrappy and work really hard so you never know what to expect when you’re going into Arizona State,” Oregon libero Haley Jacob said. “They’re going to fight and they’re not going to give up.”

The Sun Devils rank towards the bottom of the Pac-12 in most major statistical categories. They’re 12th in hitting percentage, 11th in opponent’s hitting percentage and eighth in assists. Although the Ducks rank 10th in the conference in service aces per set, they are wary of the Sun Devils’ service [email protected]@http://www.pac-12.org/Portals/7/images/wvolleyball/2011-Stats/HTML/CONFLDRS.HTM@@

“Arizona State has obviously struggled but they always — every single time — play us tough,” Moore said. “We have to really be focused. They serve well, so we’re going to have to really focus on passing.”

Although also holding a sub-.500 conference record, Arizona (14-9, 6-8 Pac-12) should provide a much stiffer test than the Sun Devils. The Wildcats have a win over No. 1 UCLA on their resume and are still in contention for a berth in the NCAA [email protected]@http://www.arizonawildcats.com/sports/w-volley/ariz-w-volley-body.html@@ @@http://www.pac-12.org/SPORTS/Volleyball/Standings.aspx@@

“Arizona’s good,” Moore said. “Arizona is much, much improved. They beat UCLA. They’re going to be at home, this is their season. It’s our season now too, so one of us is going to be really unhappy come Sunday afternoon.”

The Wildcats are best known for having an assortment of talented hitters, three of which have more than 230 kills. Madison Kingdon (250 kills, .181 hitting percentage), Courtney Karst (234, .221) and Cursty Jackson (245, .322) lead Arizona’s [email protected]@http://www.pac-12.org/Portals/7/images/wvolleyball/2011-Stats/HTML/ARIZ.HTM#team.ind@@

“We just have to focus on us, but they do have some really good hitters,” Oregon outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler [email protected]@http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=204963241@@

Oregon will need to play well to win its first road game against Arizona since [email protected]@http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=1178130&DB_OEM_ID=500@@

“Going into Arizona is always a pretty tough game,” Jacob said. “It’s getting to the end of the season and it’s really important. It’s a struggle getting in there and playing well.”

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