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Volleyball ready for Pac-10 play

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wildcat outside hitter Kim Glass goes up for a slam during last Friday's match against University of California Santa Barbara.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 16, 2003

Wildcats enter conference competition after going 6-4 in preseason tourneys

The UA volleyball team is finally done with its preseason tournaments and feels excited to jump into Pacific-10 Conference play.

Considering all the circumstances the Wildcats have gone through, head coach Dave Rubio feels the team is "in a good place" and the early losses will help build character.

"There are three seasons for every sport: there is preseason, in-season and postseason. You've got to treat each one separately," Rubio said. "So now, our preseason is over. We're 6-4. I knew it was going to be up and down for us with the squad that we have."

The Wildcats open up the Pac-10 season Thursday at Washington State (3-6) the Cougars are coming off a 3-1 win over then No. 22 Loyola Marymount 3-1 and at Washington (9-0) on Friday. WSU has beaten six of the last seven ranked opponents to visit them.

"I'm just real excited to get into conference play," said sophomore middle blocker Bre Ladd. "Nobody likes playing at ten o'clock in the morning and nobody likes playing at noon, it's just not fun. When conference play starts, you bring the crowd in and its just more fun to play, I can't wait."

The Pac-10 is coming off a strong preseason, having gone 62-24 (.721) in tournament play. Plus, a player from the Conference of Champions, widely regarded to be the best volleyball conference in the nation, has won 14 tournament MVP awards. UA sophomore outside hitter Kim Glass took home the honor in the Pepperdine Classic.

The Huskies have won nine straight matches, tying a school record, but the only ranked team they've defeated is No. 23 Wisconsin.

"It's hard to say, because the other teams, with the exception of USC, Stanford, really none of the other teams are playing anybody," said Rubio about the how good the Pac-10 teams are. "Even though they're winning a lot, it's hard to gauge how good they are because they're not playing anybody."

Poll vaulted

Thanks to a 2-1 showing by the UA in the Arizona Invitational and nine straight wins by the Huskies, Washington jumped to No. 14 where the Wildcats were ranked last week while the UA fell to No. 16 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches' Association poll.

Washington had 754 points, while Arizona had 620. The other Pac-10 teams in the top 25 are No. 1 Southern California, which had all 65 first place votes, No. 4 Stanford, No. 9 UCLA and No. 12 California.

Wazzu player gets Pac-10 honor

Thanks to their upset win, Washington State senior co-captain and outside hitter Zanda Bautre has been named Pac-10 player of the week. Bautre had 41 kills with just 12 errors a .309 attack percentage while also registering 69 assists and 40 digs. Bautre won the third such award this season, with Sanja Tomasevic, a junior outside hitter for Washington, winning the first one.

This time last year

While a 6-4 record may not be what Wildcat fans had hoped for heading into Pac-10 play, Arizona may still be better off than it was last year when they were 6-3 and

No. 15. At this time last year, the UA was shuffling their line up to make up for the loss of senior middle blocker Stefani Saragosa departure from the team. The Wildcats were in the midst of tumbling in the polls as well, falling from No. 6 in the preseason, but rebounded to make it to the Elite Eight.

"I think that our defense is much better than last year's team, Glass said. "I also think the cohesiveness is

outstanding." Glass also said that the team is like a family both on and off the court.

"We love each other to death and we always work together regardless. I think that' s going to help take us to the top."

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