By Maxx Wolfson
ARIZONA SUMMER WILDCAT/file photo
UA middle blocker Stefani Saragosa winds up for a kill against Michigan Sept. 7 in McKale Center. The senior will be a key member for the No. 8 Wildcats in 2002.
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 10, 2002
Coming off its best season in school history, the Arizona women‚s volleyball team was given a pre-season ranking of No. 8 by Volleyball Magazine yesterday.
Seven months removed from a Final Four appearance and a final ranking of fourth in the 2001 AVCA Coaches Poll, UA head coach David Rubio is not surprised by the low ranking.
„I thought we could‚ve been ranked anywhere between nine, 10, 11, or 12,š Rubio said. „We have a lot of question marks about our squad.š
One of those question marks is who will replace two-time All-American setter Dana Burkholder.
The front-runner for the job is sophomore Rochelle Ruen, who was the two-time state player of the year in Idaho.
„Losing the kids we lost ų even though we have a terrific incoming class ų will be hard to replace right away,š said Rubio, who will return four senior starters from 2001, nine letter winners and welcome six newcomers for the fall season.
Arizona‚s schedule will not make that any easier.
The Wildcats play eight of the Top 21 teams in 2002 in their 29 regular season matches.
Also included in that is 18 matches against schools that took part in the 2001 NCAA Championship Tournament.
In non-conference action, the Wildcats will face No. 4 Nebraska at home, a team that also made last year‚s Final Four.
Arizona will begin the season on the road the last weekend in August at the Louisville Labor Day Invitational in Louisville, Ky. UA will join American, Texas-Arlington and host-school Louisville in the two-day tournament.
The home schedule begins on the first weekend in September with the annual Wildcat Classic. Nebraska, No. 6 Pepperdine and New Mexico are all scheduled to play in the two-day classic on Sept. 6 -Sept. 7.
The Wildcats will then begin conference play ųwhere it does not get any easier.
The Pac-10, which sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament field of 64 last season, has four teams in the Top 20 in 2002.
The Wildcats will close out the regular season in the Beehive State at No. 21 Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, and in Salt Lake City against No. 11 Utah on Nov. 29 and 30. Those matches will be a final tune-up before the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats opened summer camp yesterday in McKale Center.
Brian Penso contributed to this report