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Volleyball returns to .500

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 7, 2003

Down 29-24 in game two against No. 6 UCLA, the UA volleyball team was finished.

Then again, the Wildcats were finished when they went to Los Angeles 6-9 and 0-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Last night, Arizona (12-12, 6-7 Pac-10) beat the Bruins (19-5, 10-4) for the second time in as many tries this season in resounding fashion, 3-0 in McKale Center. The Wildcats won the first game going away, 30-21 and then came back in game two to win, 37-35 to break the Bruins' back.

Arizona held off UCLA in the final game, 30-24.

"We were down pretty bad," said UA head coach Dave Rubio about game two. "That made the match right there."

Arizona now has won its last four matches and 12 games at home, have swept five of their last six Pac-10 matches, and have won six of their last nine overall. The Wildcats improved their record against top-10 teams to 4-5, with a chance to even it against No. 1 Southern California (22-0, 13-0) in McKale Center tonight at 7.

"The girls, they expect to win now," Rubio said. "We were two different types of teams. You saw us in the beginning when we were a wreck, just in shambles and kind of disjointed. Now you see some flow and system and real good communication."

The UA is now at .500 for the first time since September 26.

Arizona had 69 digs and 12 total team blocks last night - both highs for three game matches this season

Sophomore outside hitter Kim Glass led the way for the UA with 21 kills on about 20 swings less then normal, and had a career high 19 digs. Her 20-plus kills match is her 13th this season, one away from the school record she set last year.

"We already know our capabilities. Now we just have to go out there and prove it to everyone," Glass said. "We have the team to go to the Final Four."

Sophomore middle blocker Bre Ladd added 11 kills on a .588 hitting percentage. The Wildcats out-hit the Bruins, .273 to .098.

With six matches to go, the Wildcats must win four to qualify for the tournament.

"I told the team it doesn't matter who we play," Rubio said. "I said, 'It's all about W's (and) I don't care who it's against.' I don't care who we're playing. One match isn't bigger than another - whether it's SC (tonight) or Oregon next week. That's because our goal is to be over .500."

The doom and gloom seems to be gone from Rubio's post match comments.

"At this particular moment - and kind of mark this in time - we are a .500 ball club," Rubio said, chuckling. "I can't even remember the last time we were a .500 ball club."

The top-ranked Women of Troy have won 34 in a row and lead the Pac-10 in nearly every statistic. The Trojans have only lost three games all year - one to UCLA and two to California, which the UA swept last week.

"We're excited about USC. I definitely think if Cal can take them to five then we can too," Glass said. "We're better than every team we've played so far. I think we can definitely go out there and give USC a run for their money and prove to everyone that we're one of the top three."

Freshman setter Stephanie Butkus had 48 assists in leading the Wildcats to last night's sweep.

"Stephanie continues to grow and improve," Rubio said. "She made a couple one-handed sets that really tightened the net. Before, she never would have gotten those balls. I thought that was another indication of the road we've traveled."

Unlike the first win over UCLA, Rubio didn't think of this victory as an upset.

"I think people in volleyball, who know volleyball, around the country probably don't consider this a big upset considering how we're playing now," Rubio said. "All that stuff doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is getting in to the tournament. Whether or not people think we're good or not doesn't matter. All we want to do is get enough wins to be over .500."

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