Neutral site may aid UA

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona heads "home" for the NCAA tournament's West Regional semifinals.

Even though the UA women's volleyball team will be in Palo Alto, Calif., when it plays Southern Cal (21-7 overall, 12-6 in the Pacific 10 Conference) tomorrow night, Wildcats coach Dave Rubio feels the Women of Troy still may not have an advantage.

"Actually, I think playing in Palo Alto might give us an advantage," Rubio said. "With four players from around that area, I think that we should get a lot of crowd support."

But the way, the Wildcats (17-9, 10-8) are gelling as a team, they could rely on their own support if need be.

"Even though we played great defensively and blocked great, what really impressed me was the personality of the team," Rubio said. "We were real supportive of each other."

The Wildcats take on the Trojans tomorrow night at 9 Tucson time.

The West Region of the NCAAs is beginning to resemble a Pac-10 tournament. With two rounds completed, four of the top five teams in the conference are the only teams left in the West. With the Arizona State-Stanford winner playing the Arizona-USC winner Friday, the Pac-10 is guaranteed a team in the Final Four for the 13th time in 14 postseason championships.

Stanford coach Don Shaw thinks this is representative of the level of competition in the Pac-10.

"To start with six teams in the West Region really shows the strength of our conference," Shaw said.

Said Rubio: "Teams from other conferences have a tremendous amount of respect for schools in our conference. It's a little frustrating for schools like us, ASU and USC because if we were in other conferences we could probably go farther in the tournament."

And although it would involve a few upsets, an all-Arizona final in the West Region is not inconceivable. But Rubio would be very surprised if such an outcome were to happen.

"A West final with us and ASU is unlikely," Rubio said. "ASU is a very good team and I am hoping that they can pull it out. But if I were a betting man, I would bet the farm on Stanford."

Arizona's Sweet 16 match against USC tomorrow will mark only the second time in history that the UA has reached the regionals. Last year, Arizona beat Lamar and Arizona State before losing to Brigham Young.

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