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On the prowl: Thunderous Cats

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Kim Glass
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Sophomores Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy make noise on the outside for No. 15 UA volleyball team

As teammates on the No. 14 Arizona volleyball team and best friends off the court, sophomore outside hitters Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy go together like thunder and lightning.

Now they have the sweatbands to show it.

The pair are sporting black armbands during matches this season with logos from the ╬80s cartoon "Thundercats" on them, as they anchor an important position for the Arizona volleyball team.

Since one of their cheers is the cartoon characters' battle cry on the show, Glass, the 2002 American Volleyball Coaches Association Freshman of the year, and Abernathy thought the sweatbands were a perfect addition to their game day attire.

"One of our cheers is ╬Thundercats, Ho!' We say that all the time," Glass said. "It's kind of like a pride thing. We're best friends and if one us gets down on the court just remember each of us can pick each other up."

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Jennifer Abernathy

The show aired originally from 1985 to 1990, going off the air when the two were each only six years old. While Glass is already 19, Abernathy is still 18 for a few more hours, celebrating her birthday tomorrow.

"We saw these and thought that'd be so cool for us for us to wear to help each other out, like if we get down during the games we see it and it's like ╬hey you're my girl, let's stick together and work through this,'" Glass said.

According to Abernathy, the matching armbands are just one more thing that displays the closeness of their relationship.

"Basically a lot of people know that we're close friends off the court," Abernathy said. "Kimberly and I have a special friendship. It is more of a pick me up not to single us out."

The pair met in Minnesota before their junior year of high school while training for the 2001 Women's Junior World Championships. Fellow sophomore Bre Ladd also played for the American juniors.

"I didn't have a roommate so she used to live in my room," Glass said. "We just become really close since then."

Coming out of high school the duo was highly regarded across the nation, with their commitments helping the UA earn the ranking of the nation's top recruiting class. In Volleyball Magazine's 2002 "Fab 50," Glass was No. 2, Abernathy No. 6, while Ladd finished atop the rankings.

"Our last two schools were UCLA and here," Glass said. "After we went on both of our visits we both decided that we knew we wanted to come here. We thought it would be really cool if we did it together. It's like a double whammy."

I know that once we got those two committed, we were going to have an exceptional team.

- Dave Rubio
UA head volleyball coach


Head Coach Dave Rubio and the other UA coaches were having dinner together at the time Glass, of Lancaster, Pa., and Abernathy, of Antioch, Calif., called to inform the staff of their decisions.

"I knew that once we got those two committed, we were going to have an exceptional team," Rubio said.

Abernathy has fared well this year despite being shoved into action, after seeing limited playing time during her rookie season while backing up four-year starter Lisa Rutledge. Abernathy was limited to 57 kills in 27 matches last year.

So far this season, Abernathy has posted solid numbers. Against Santa Clara, Abernathy had 18 kills on 34 attempts with four errors, good for a .412 hitting percentage ¸ all career-bests.

"Jennifer has been, in my mind, one of the nicest and most pleasant surprises that we've had this year," said Rubio. "She came in and has been working so hard and really developed her game that I think its at a level that I wasn't quite sure she was capable of attaining and she's sustained this level form the very first day of practice."

Abernathy has taken the advice of Rubio and associate head coach Charita Johnson to heart and feels she's making strides.

Up Next

Arizona Invitational
· Friday, 10 a.m.
vs. New Mexico · Friday, 7:30 p.m.
vs. UC Santa Barbara · Saturday, 12 p.m. vs. American
McKale Center

"I know Dave and Rita are proud of me," Abernathy said. "I'm getting the chance to mature as a volleyball player."

Along with her coaches, Glass is also impressed with her roommate's play this year.

"I think she's done great," Glass said. "She came out there, didn't play much last year, but I know she came out there and played with so much fire all the time. She's energetic in practice all the time and just a great person to be out there on the court with."

Last season, Glass, who broke Arizona's single season record for kills with 556, was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference Team and had 14 matches with 20 or more kills, a school record.

"Obviously Kim comes in with a lot of preseason accolades," Rubio said. "My feeling is that she's lived up to all the press and everything that was said about her."

Glass has managed to continue her outstanding play this season. Against Miami, Glass had a season-high 24 kills. She posted a.422 hitting percentage and 15 digs, giving her for a double-double.

"Having (Abernathy and Glass) on the left really has given us an opportunity to develop into a great team," Rubio said. "You have to have two great left side attackers. We're really fortunate to have both of theses players in our program."

Rubio said that having both Abernathy and Glass in the lineup gives the Wildcats a great shot at winning a national championship.

"The thing that I look forward to most is that they're still very young in their development," Rubio said. "Even though they're as good as they are right now, my feeling is that they're going to get a while lot better. I think they're going to be the two best left side attackers in the game."

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