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Monday December 4, 2000

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Wildcats seek to pass road block

Headline Photo

By Brian Penso

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona tries for team's 1st victory in the "Sweet 16"

The Arizona volleyball team earned its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament round of 16 Friday with a win against Michigan at McKale Center.

Now, all the Wildcats have to do is defeat history.

In head coach David Rubio's nine years at Arizona, the Wildcats have never advanced beyond the "Sweet 16".

Last year, UA upset No. 15 Texas but lost to Pacific 10 Conference foe Stanford, the eventual NCAA-runner up.

Once again, Rubio and the Wildcats were beaten in the "Sweet 16."

This year, though, No. 5 UA has much higher goals for itself.

"Just like anything else, the first time you get there you enjoy the ride," Rubio said. "The 'Sweet 16' is wonderful. Last year was great to get there, but it ended on a sour note. Already the team is doing whatever it can to get beyond the 'Sweet 16'."

While Arizona is excited to have advanced beyond the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, this year's team doesn't expect another early exit in the "Sweet 16.".

"We all expected to make it this far," junior outside hitter Jill Talbot said. "We have set high goals for ourselves, and we will not be satisfied until we reach our ultimate goal of making the Final Four."

The Wildcats will take on BYU in its first regional matchup, a team that they defeated earlier in the season 3-1.

Rubio said this is the best chance Arizona has had to move beyond the "Sweet 16."

"It is still business as usual for us," Rubio said. "Our mind set is we expect to win and the time that we will really celebrate is if we make it to the Final Four. Until then, it is business as usual."

In her second "Sweet 16" appearance, senior Allison Napier said that this season's appearance is a lot different then her previous experience.

"Last year we were not expected to get that far," Napier said. "This year we are expected to go and if we didn't then it would have been a disappointment. That is why we are not really celebrating right now."

Sophomore outside hitter Lisa Rutledge said that the team is on the right track in its attempt to pass the round of 16 and possibly advance to the school's first Final Four appearance.

"All of our hard work is paying off right now," Rutledge said. "We have been working really hard to get to this level and beyond."