Wildcats romp in Doubletree tourney

By Sam Spiller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 9, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA freshman Kara Gormsen (11) sets a shot while teammate Stephanie Venne looks on during the Wildcats' straight-games victory over St. Mary's Friday at McKale Center.


The Doubletree Wildcat Invitational volleyball tournament this weekend was nothing less than a showcase for Arizona.

The Wildcats (7-0 overall, 0-0 in the Pacific 10 Conference) lost only one game in four wins against St. Mary's (1-3), Utah State (1-4), Eastern Washington (3-2) and Portland (3-4).

Three Wildcats were named to the all-tournament team: middle blocker Stephanie Venne, outside hitter Michelle Fanger and outside hitter Barb Bell, who was also named the tournament's most valuable player. Although Bell was unenthusiastic about her own performance, she was pleased with the play of the team.

"I feel no pressure this year," Bell said. "I'm just going out there and having fun because everybody else has stepped up. The team's not just depending on me all the time, and I'm proud of them for doing that."

The scores of the games alone reflect how much the Wildcats dominated their opponents. In Friday's game against St. Mary's, they pounded the Gaels 15-11,15-10, 15-9. In their evening game against Utah State, they won 15-2, 15-6, 15-12. In Saturday's match, the Wildcats began business as usual, winning the first game 15-11, then came the startling 15-3 loss in game two. But in the third and fourth games, Arizona returned to form and crushed the Eagles 15-5, 15-3.

In the last game of the tournament, Arizona played a stunning game against Portland. The team showed more of what head coach Dave Rubio was trying to accomplish, beating the Pilots 15-7, 15-5, 15-7.

"I was a little surprised," Rubio said. "I thought they (the Pilots) may have been a little overwhelmed. This was the best match we've played since we started the season."

There was little question whether the Wildcats would win their games on Friday and Saturday, but it was how they won those games that was surprising. In a tough coaching decision, Rubio opted to go with freshman setter Kara Gormsen in Friday's matches against St. Mary's and Utah State, instead of starter Michaela Ebben, who was ill with the flu. The decision turned out to be the correct one.

In eight games played, including last week's ASU Invitational, Gormsen has accumulated 93 assists, 9 kills, 7 blocks and 23 digs. Comparatively, in the nine games Ebben had played in before the Portland match she had almost identical numbers with 101 assists, 9 kills, 7 blocks and 16 digs. Both setters had a percentage of .500. However, in the match against Portland, Ebben showed why she is the starter. She had 37 assists, 5 kills, 3 blocks and 10 digs with a percentage of .625.

"I thought Michaela did a great job," Bell said. "I think she stepped in and set a great game. She was very deceptive and put the ball in a good location."