By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, December 5, 2005
Cats demolish Utah squads; Santa Clara upsets No. 4 Stanford
As it happened, the only advantage enjoyed by the host seeds in NCAA Tournament play over the weekend was a short ride home.
On the same night Santa Clara upset No. 5 seed Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., the No. 4 seed Arizona volleyball team propelled itself into the Sweet 16 round with a win over host Utah on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
Arizona (24-5) upended the Utes (23-9) on Crimson Court in four games (30-27, 30-26, 28-30, 30-27).
The Wildcats take on Ohio (32-2) in regional action in Palo Alto on Friday. Should Arizona win, it would face the winner of Pepperdine-Santa Clara in the Elite Eight on Saturday.
With Stanford hosting the first, second and regional rounds, the Cardinal had a chance to play at home at Maples Pavilion all the way until the Final Four.
But Santa Clara's four-game victory makes Arizona's route to San Antonio a little easier.
"I was surprised at that loss, especially because Stanford was playing at Stanford. But we played Santa Clara earlier in the year, and Santa Clara, obviously, is a terrific team," said Arizona head coach Dave Rubio, noting Arizona's loss to the Broncos, its only loss to a non-Pacific 10 Conference team this season, on Sept. 3. "Anything can happen in the playoffs, obviously."
Three of the six Pac-10 teams that made the tournament fell in the second round. California, No. 12 seed Southern California and Stanford all lost on Saturday, leaving No. 3 Washington, Arizona and No. 16 seed UCLA remaining.
"Pepperdine beat USC at USC in three (games), so that's much more surprising to me than the Stanford-Santa Clara loss," Rubio said. "We can't take any team for granted just because big names are no longer in the bracket - or the supposed big names, I should say."
Senior outside hitter Kim Glass led Arizona past Utah with 27 kills and 13 digs for her 19th double-double on the season.
Fellow senior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy tallied 21 kills and 11 digs, good for her 15th double-double.
Junior opposite hitter Kristina Baum was a force to be reckoned with, as she had 21 kills and a match-high .594 hitting percentage. Baum also had eight assists, two service aces, seven digs and two blocks.
"She certainly has been playing well," Rubio said. "(Saturday) night, she was just our go-to player, and we couldn't get the ball to her enough. Amy (Dyck) did a nice job of setting her (up), and Kristina did a terrific job of moving the ball around. She really kept the (Utah) defense guessing in terms of where she was going to hit the ball."
The Wildcats swept Utah State (21-13) in the first round of the tournament (30-26, 30-27, 30-20) on Friday, as Baum led both squads with a match-high 13 kills and only three errors in 21 attempts for a .476 hitting percentage.
Abernathy notched 11 kills and a team-high 10 digs, with Glass picking up 10 kills and nine digs.
Senior middle blocker Bre Ladd contributed five kills, eight digs and eight blocks.
Dyck dished out 33 assists in addition to three kills and three digs.
Arizona was able to limit the Aggies' Zuzana Cernianska - a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honoree - to only five kills and a .136 clip.
Arizona out-hit USU .340 to .130 and out-blocked the Aggies 15 to five.