By Brian Penso
JON HELGASON/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman Kim Glass was named Pac 10 Freshman of the Year. Glass and the Wildcats finish their season this weekend in Utah.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday November 27, 2002
After 26 grueling matches in an up-and-down season, the Arizona women's volleyball team has one last regular-season test, this time against non-conference foes, but with postseason seeding implications.
The Wildcats will be spending their Thanksgiving holiday in Utah, where they will take on Brigham Young and No. 24 Utah.
Arizona (16-10 overall, 11-7 Pacific 10 Conference) jumped from No. 16 to No. 12 in the recent American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, which puts it in a position to possibly be a No. 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament if it can manage to sweep this weekend's matches.
However, if Arizona stumbles this weekend, it could very easily fall to a No. 4 seed, putting the Wildcats in line to play a top seed in the round of 16 if they advanced to that point in the tournament ÷÷ just a little added incentive to finish strong.
Leading the way for the Wildcats is freshman Kim Glass. On the season, Glass has averaged 4.78 kills per game to lead the Wildcats. Her freshman season was so impressive, she was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
Glass was also named first-team All-Pac-10.
"Kim has the talent to receive many honors in her career," head coach David Rubio said. "She has to continue to work hard and pay the price to receive such honors."
The Cougars (14-17, 7-7 Mountain West Conference) have made a late-season run at a postseason berth as they advanced to the finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament before being upended by the Utes.
The Wildcats should have few problems with BYU, but Rubio said this is the type of team that Arizona may face in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
"These are the teams that we will face early in the tournament," Rubio said. "This is a trial run for the postseason. We know what we need to do this weekend."
With the Cougars on the bubble for the tournament, a win over UA would almost certainly propel them into the postseason.
On the other hand, the Utes (24-7, 10-4) come into their match with Arizona riding high after winning the MWC, and a win over Arizona would solidify a No. 6 or 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.
These factors accounted for, this weekend will be far from a holiday for Arizona.
"We have played the top teams in the country all season," senior Shannon Torregrosa said. "We know what it takes to play with the best teams. We have to play that way this weekend because these are the type of teams that we will see in the round of 32."
The Utes have two outside hitters of their own to match Glass's 425 kills on the season.
Junior Kim Turner has 423 kills on the season and fellow teammate Sylva Strzinkova is not far behind with 411.
The Wildcat defense will have to be ready for strong outside attacks from both players, but UA has the ability to counter these two attackers with Glass, senior Lisa Rutledge and freshman Bre Ladd.
Ladd and Rutledge were both named honorable mention All Pac-10, and when they combine with Glass, they give Arizona a very balanced and potent offensive attack.
Come Sunday night, the Wildcats will have concluded their regular season and they will know exactly what lies ahead for them in the NCAA Tournament.