Wildcats bound for tournament despite split
The UA women's volleyball team, which has been trying to prove they can beat ranked teams all season, seems to have their work cut out for them.
The Wildcats, despite playing their toughest schedule in recent memory, will move on to the NCAA Tournament, facing Virginia on Thursday night at 7 in Austin, Texas.
Despite a tough schedule, the 19th-ranked Wildcats earned a fifth seed in the Pacific bracket of the NCAA tournament. The brackets were announced late Sunday, and against teams that made the tournament, the Wildcats are 4-10.
"I'm a little ambivalent about the whole seeding," UA head coach David Rubio said. "I'm happy we don't have to play a Pac-10 opponent in the first two rounds."
The Wildcats open the tournament on Thursday night, as they take on the Cavaliers at Gregory Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Texas.
"Virginia was obviously deemed worthy of a bid," Rubio said. "We need to worry about beating them first, then worry about everything else."
Should they win, UA will take on either No. 15 Texas or Houston on Friday night at 8. Looming in the near future is Stanford, who has the number one seed in the region.
UA ended their regular season with a split in the Starwoods Plaza Hotel Tournament at McKale Center last weekend.
Friday night saw the Wildcats win the first game against No. 3 Hawaii, 15-4.
The Wahine battled, however, winning the next three games and eventually the match by the score of 4-15, 15-7, 15-13 and 15-10.
"The tournament was fine," Rubio said. "There's no question we're every bit as good as those teams. We were right there against Hawaii."
Rubio thought his team fell just short of an upset due to an inability to be consistent.
"We just didn't make the right plays at the right time," he said. "We're capable but we're young. We just have to learn to step up when we have to."
The Wildcats beat up on Texas-El Paso on Saturday morning, sweeping the Miners by the score 15-7, 15-10 and 15-11.
Rubio saw Saturday morning's match as a nice opportunity to win big.
"Saturday's match was nice," he said. "We had an opportunity to finish the season off with a good match and focus on the playoffs."
Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee tied a school record for kill percentage, hitting .750 for the match. She had 13 kills and just one error in 16 attempts.
DaLee has played well enough to earn a spot on the All Pacific 10 Conference first team, where she is joined by sophomore setter Dana Burkholder.
The win brought Arizona's final regular season record to 19-11 overall. The Wildcats finished in fourth place in the Pac-10 at 12-6, setting a school record.
However, losses to ranked teams such as UCLA, Stanford and Hawaii has left the team with a 2-8 record against ranked teams.