UA returns home for Desert Thunder
A storm is heading to the UA campus this weekend, but it isn't the kind that will send people scrambling for their umbrellas.
Desert Thunder is the Arizona men's club volleyball team's fifth annual tournament, and it will give the team the chance to find out where they rank against top competition.
"Everyone is really excited about being home," graduate student outside hitter Mike Stowell said. "There'll be a lot of fans, and we won't have to deal with traveling, flights and car rentals."
Traveling complications, though, didn't seem to be much of a hindrance to the team's playing two weeks ago, as the No. 1 Wildcats (10-2 overall) swept the University of Michigan's tournament at Michigan, losing only one game in the championship match.
UA swept games against Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Iowa State, Florida, Indiana, Buffalo and Virginia Tech before squaring up against Utah Valley State College. The Utah Valley match went three games. The Wildcats took the first one 25-17, fell short the second 16-25, and won the last 15-12.
"We played well," UA head coach Steve Carlat said. "It was only our second competition and our first with the new scoring format."
The Michigan tournament, as will the Desert Thunder, followed new scoring regulations in which the first two games are played to 25 points, and the last to 15 with rally scoring. No longer are side outs awarded to the non-serving team, but rather, it is a point-per-play match.
The players have commented that the new scoring gives the underdog teams an upper hand because mistakes can now fall in their favor, and it doesn't give much room for teams on top, like the Wildcats, to relax in competition.
"We want to get our guys to refocus on the basics," UA assistant coach Skip Greenburgh said. "We need to capitalize on point opportunities."
Eighteen teams will participate in this weekend's tournament, including Arizona's first and second teams. The teams are divided into four pools and will compete among these pools Saturday in Bear Down Gym and the Student Recreational Center. The first and second place teams from each pool will advance to play-off matches Sunday at the Rec.
The Wildcats will face Pima Community College, Duke and Long Beach City College Saturday.
"I'm very excited for Long Beach," Stowell said. "They're one of the top teams in the country, definitely top in California. It'll be our toughest match."
Other teams competing this weekend include No. 8 San Diego State, Washington State, Arizona State, UNLV, Texas A&M, Colorado and Colorado State.
"Hopefully, we'll see San Diego State Sunday," grad student outside hitter Ken Murczek said. "They have a lot of former Division I players, and it should be a good challenge."
Matches begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. It has yet to be determined what time Arizona will take the court, but the team is scheduled for the second, fourth and sixth matches of the day on Saturday.