UA again denied bid to host first, second rounds of tournament
For the third consecutive year, the No. 6 Arizona volleyball team will not host an NCAA Tournament contest, even though the Wildcats finished the regular season on a five-match winning streak and earned a No. 4 seed for the postseason.
Arizona (22-5, 14-4 Pacific 10 Conference) heads to Salt Lake City for the first and second rounds of the tournament, and will take on Utah State (21-12) on Friday at 6 p.m.
Should the Wildcats win, they would battle the winner of the Utah (22-8)-Loyola Marymount (19-10) match Saturday at 7 p.m.
Arizona's No. 4 seed is the highest in program history, as the Wildcats make their 10th consecutive postseason appearance.
"I really kind of counted on us hosting this year. I felt like we deserved it," said Arizona head coach Dave Rubio. "I'm not sure why they didn't allow us to do that this year other than playing Thursday-Friday. It's definitely a negative for us because we can't go Friday-Saturday."
The Wildcats were forced to put in a Thursday-Friday bid rather than a Friday-Saturday bid because of the Arizona women's basketball Fiesta Bowl Classic tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday in McKale Center.
"It looks if we were the Number 1 seed, it wouldn't have mattered because of the fact that we're Thursday-Friday," Rubio said.
Arizona finished the regular season with victories over Oregon and Oregon State over the weekend and is tied with No. 5 seed Stanford (25-5, 14-4) for second place in the Pac-10, a conference that sends six teams to the tournament.
No. 12 seed Southern California (16-10, 12-6), No. 16 seeded UCLA (18-10, 10-8) and the Cardinal - which will also host the regional round Dec. 9-10 - will host the first and second rounds.
No. 3 seed and Pac-10 Champion Washington is the highest-seeded team not hosting. The Huskies (25-1, 16-1) travel to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State.
Senior outside hitter Kim Glass said she is not disappointed that Arizona must play on the road because she did not expect the Wildcats to host.
"I just think that Arizona never really gets a chance to host," she said. "We don't get the credit that we deserve, I think, sometimes. We expected to travel and we're ready to go."
"Utah is just as good as any place for us," said senior middle blocker Bre Ladd. "It doesn't really matter where we go."
Arizona starting setter Amy Dyck was pulled for junior setter Stephanie Butkus in Arizona's sweep (30-23, 30-17, 30-24) over Oregon State on Saturday in Corvallis, Ore. Butkus recorded 38 assists, while Dyck had six.
"Amy started and struggled a little bit in the midway," Rubio said. "She just wasn't very sharp (Saturday) night. It was good to get Stephanie in there. We need her in the tournament."
He added that Dyck is still Arizona's starting setter going into the postseason.
The Wildcats hit .300 on the match, while holding the Beavers (11-13, 7-11) to a season-low .025 hitting percentage.
Glass had a match-high 18 kills and ended the regular season as the only Pac-10 player to record 10 or more kills in every contest.
Fellow senior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy had eight kills, while sophomore middle blocker Dominique Lamb tallied eight kills and a team-high seven blocks.
Arizona defeated the Ducks (12-17, 1-16) in four games (30-25, 30-24, 29-31, 30-26) Friday night in Eugene, Ore.
"I just felt like we were pretty flat going in the match," Rubio said. "It just didn't feel like we were very up for the match. We weren't sharp."
Glass had 25 kills and 13 digs for her 18th double-double of the season, while Abernathy added 19 kills and 10 digs.
Lamb and Ladd anchored the Arizona defense with 10 and eight blocks, respectively. Dyck recorded 52 assists, three service aces and three blocks.