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Volleyball can't close out Devils

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona outside hitter Kim Glass goes for a kill against Arizona State on Friday in Tempe. The Wildcats lost the match 4-3.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, September 29, 2003

As if blowing a 2-0 lead to its in-state rival wasn't enough, the struggling UA volleyball team must now face all four California schools the leaders of the Pacific 10 Conference in succession.

After being upset by Arizona State (6-6, 1-2 Pacific 10 Conference), the No. 22 Wildcats (6-7, 0-3) are now facing their toughest stretch of matches this season to date. This week, Arizona plays host to No. 4 Stanford and No. 11 Cal, and then travels to Los Angeles to face No. 8 UCLA and No. 1 Southern California.

UA head coach Dave Rubio has not been surprised at the Wildcats' early struggles. The preseason No. 10 team has lost three in a row and four of five, but had hoped that his team's talent and athleticism would help it overcome the Sun Devils. It did early in the match, but didn't provide UA with the match victory.

"The suffering isn't going to end. That's the problem," Rubio said. "I feel like the football team right now. (The football team had) Oregon, Purdue and TCU. Instead, we've got Stanford (and) Cal at home, and then we go on the road against UCLA and USC. So the menu for us only gets less palatable."

Arizona won the first game against ASU, 30-26, and cruised in the second, 30-23. But the team fell apart thereafter, losing 24-30, 34-36 and 10-15.

The 0-3 Pac-10 opening is the UA's first since 1992.

"I can tell you one thing: An experienced veteran team does not make those kind of mistakes. A young upcoming team makes those kind of mistakes," Rubio said. "I don't care what sport it is. Whether it's basketball or football, you have to suffer a little bit before you can achieve greatness, and believe me, Arizona volleyball is suffering."

Sophomore outside hitter Kim Glass was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats, tallying over 30 kills.

The Wildcats had leads in the third and fourth games before succumbing to the Devils.

"When you're up 20-12 and you lose good teams don't do that," Rubio said. "Eight points? The game's to 30. All you do is get 10 more points."

"When the game got close, when there was a little bit of heat, there was only one player ready to play, and that was Kim Glass. I'm not seeing what I need to see from the other players on the floor. Everyone looks tentative."

Glass' 31-kill performance in the match tied her for eighth in school history. It was her eighth 20-plus-kill match and her second 30-plus-kill match in her career.

Glass' kills accounted for over half of Arizona's kills, and she had 16 digs for her third straight double-double.

No other Wildcat had more than eight kills.

"It's frustrating and I feel bad for Kim, because she's carrying the team," Rubio said. "You can't ask much more from her. Players are going to have to step up. I need some offense.''

The Sun Devils had more of a balanced attack, as four players had double-digit kills. Senior Kim Mehlhorn had a career-high seven service aces, three of which came during a 12-1 ASU run in the fourth game.

For the Sun Devils, junior outside hitter Natalie Harris recorded four service aces and two blocks for 24.5 total points.

Rubio said he felt there will be light at the end of the tunnel for Arizona, which will drop out of the rankings for the first time since 1998 83 polls in a row.

"Eventually, they are going to get tired of losing and not executing when the game is on the line," Rubio said. "Tonight was another example where we were clearly the better team (and) clearly the dominant team, and yet we were afraid to win in the end."

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