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Volleyball finally at home for 'Classic'

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Summer Wildcat
Bre Ladd (right) and Kim Glass attempt to block a shot against Cal last season. Ladd and the Wildcats will face Nicholls State in today's home opener without outside hitter Kim Glass. Glass is sidelined with a shoulder injury
By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 10, 2004
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If you're hoping to get some use out of your Zona Zoo pass prior to basketball season, look no further. With three volleyball matches in two days, Arizona's home slate jumps into full swing in a hurry, leaving fans just enough time to catch the Wildcat football team take on Utah tomorrow night.

Play began yesterday in the Four Points University Plaza Wildcat Classic. The Wildcats will hit the court for the first time this morning at 10 against Nicholls State. Arizona then faces off against No. 9 Pepperdine at 7 p.m., before wrapping up the tournament with a match against No. 18 Louisville at noon tomorrow.

Winless Nicholls State (0-3) will be hungry for a victory after falling to Tulane, Georgetown and Southern Illinois already this season. Pepperdine has broken even so far by beating Georgia and falling to No. 1 USC in its weekend tournament, while Louisville is undefeated after overcoming Virginia, Loyola and Jacksonville State.

"I need to watch some film on Nicholls State, because I didn't really see them play last year. In the NCAA (tournament) we were in the same regional, and we lost and went back to the hotel," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "(Pepperdine and Louisville) are both very good teams and are historically very good teams. I think we will have really good matches, and with Nicholls State we just have to be prepared to play a really good game."

Arizona and Louisville have played each other twice before, with each school taking a match. Arizona's mark against Pepperdine is near .500 as well, with the Waves holding a slight 6-5 edge all-time. This is the first meeting between the Wildcats and the Colonels of Nicholls State.

After losing to both No. 20 San Diego and No. 11 Hawaii in the Rainbow Wahine Classic, the Wildcats (2-2) fell two places - from No. 17 to No. 19 - in this week's USA Today/College Sports Television Coaches Poll.

Rubio said Arizona's doubleheader today will not affect his starting lineup.

"It really doesn't change anything for us," he said. "We're not in a position where we can enjoy a lot of depth at this point, with Kim (Glass) being out. Right now everyone will continue to be in the same position they have been."

"We're going to have to play competitively no matter what," said sophomore setter Stephanie Butkus. "We really have to step up our game. We have to prove to people that it doesn't matter who the opponent is on the other side. We have to play our best volleyball. We're really looking forward, of course, to the Pepperdine and Louisville matches but no matter who it is, we have to play the best we can."

After a 2-2 road trip, the Wildcats are grateful to return to the confines of McKale Center.

"Hopefully we'll have more fans in the stands this time," Butkus said. "It's just really exciting to play at home instead of traveling. (It's better) to sleep in your own bed."

"We still have the same expectations every time - whether the outcome is what you expect it to be or not," said junior outside hitter Bre Ladd in light of the Wildcats' recent road trip. "We just need to look at scouting on the other teams and make it easier on us. It hasn't changed our expectation at all."

Sophomore outside hitter Meghan Cumpston will continue to fill the shoes of the injured Kim Glass. Cumpston was named to the all-tournament team in last weekend's Rainbow Wahine Classic, in which she averaged four kills, 3.42 digs, 0.75 blocks and 0.5 service aces. She also leads the team with three digs per game.

"I think (Cumpston) always had it in her," Rubio said. "But because of the fact that Kim isn't here, we have to rely on someone else on the left, and she's really been a phenomenal force for us. It's everything we were counting on. We knew she had it in her, but with Kim on the floor you tend not to have to set as many people. But now it's awesome that Meghan has really improved."

In his 13th season, Rubio is on track to become the winningest coach in Arizona volleyball history. With 236 wins under his belt, he needs 23 more to earn the honor, which is currently held by Rosie Wegrich. Wegrich recorded 258 wins from 1977 to 1991.

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