Tournament-bound Wildcats sweep Oregon schools

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

It's tournament time again.

By winning five of its last six games, the Arizona volleyball team has assured itself of an NCAA tournament bid.

The Wildcats (15-9 overall, 10-8 in the Pacific 10 Conference) will enter the NCAA tournament one year removed from a season in which they went to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.

This year, the clincher for the UA was a three-game sweep over Oregon (7-21, 1-16), which came Friday night at McKale Center. The final score was 15-8, 15-6, 15-11.

"We did what we had to do this weekend," UA coach David Rubio said.

Arizona knew it was in the tournament Saturday, so the game against Oregon State didn't mean much. But that was not apparent on the floor, as Arizona won in four games (15-12, 12-15, 15-11, 15-4). The Wildcats came out gunning in the first game, opening up a 7-3 lead. Although the Beavers crept back in, the UA held off a late rally and won 15-12.

The tables were turned in the second game, as Oregon State jumped out to a 5-1 lead, and even though Arizona staged a late rally, the Beavers proved to be too much for the Wildcats by hanging on to win 15-12.

"In the intermission, after our second game, I told the players that I thought that we were allowing the referees to dictate the match," Rubio said. "We had to take the focus off the refs and put it on ourselves."

In games three and four, the Wildcats came out and did what Rubio asked. They were down a few times, but rallied together as a team instead of complaining about calls. This team concept was evident when the Wildcats were down 3-0 in the third game and senior Rita Johnson went down with a knee injury. It looked pretty grim for Arizona, but the players rallied to a 7-5 lead with Johnson returning shortly after.

"We responded very well in game three," Rubio said. "Earlier in the season we might have rolled over, but tonight we just got tougher."

Although this game had really no bearing on the Wildcats' tournament hopes, it was a very important game for two of the UA players. In fact, it was their last game.

"It hasn't hit me yet," Johnson said shortly after what was her last regular season home game as a Wildcat. "I may have a lot of flowers and stuff, but it hasn't really sunk in."

Even though they knew inside that this was their last game, that did not apparently change their outlook on the game.

"I hadn't really thought about it until after the game people started saying it was my last game," said Melissa Ferris, the UA's only other senior. "I don't think it will hit me until after the season's over."

Read Next Article