By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Last night's game against No. 16 Arizona State was a tale of two cities for the 17th-ranked Arizona women's volleyball team. And although the Wildcats lost in four games Ä 12-15, 15-2, 0-15, 15-13 - nothing better represents their season thus far than the second and third games of the match.
"This whole year it seems that we either ride the crowd and get caught up in emotion and hammer a team, or we struggle and cannot find a way to get going," UA coach Dave Rubio said.
In the second game, Arizona dominated the higher-ranked ASU squad, jumping out to a 9-1 lead. The crowd was cheering, the band was playing and the Wildcats avenged a tightly played first game by destroying ASU 15-2.
But it was like Cinderella at midnight for the Wildcats in the third game. The glory and riches of victory turned into the rags of defeat, as Arizona could not even manage a point in a rare 15-0 defeat Ä the last time the Wildcats were held scoreless in a game was in September of 1991.
"The story for our team so far this season is how we respond to adversity," Rubio said. "We responded great in the second game when we jumped out to a 6-0 start, but in the third game when we were down 6-0, we folded."
The first and fourth games were all-out battles in which both teams had chances to win. In game one, there were eight lead changes, with each team having chances to deliver a knockout blow. But after a few questionable calls the Wildcats found themselves down 13-11. Although Arizona did manage to add one more point, it could not overtake the Sun Devils, and lost 15-12.
The fourth game was a defensive battle in the same mold as game one. Arizona jumped out in front 7-3 and looked to be back in the saddle after a disappointing game three. But the Sun Devils crept back in as they went on a 5-0 run. The Wildcats managed another rush, pushing the score to 13-9. But in the end it was ASU again having the last words in a 15-13 come from behind victory. The hitting percentages told the
story for this game. ASU hit .183, while Arizona could only manage a dismal .042. And that proved to be the deciding factory as the Wildcats lost the game and the match 15-13.
"ASU is a fantastic defensive team and they showed that tonight," said sophomore Heidi Bomberger. "That's why we didn't hit that well."
Melissa Ferris and Barb Bell led the Wildcats with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Freshman Michaela Ebben had another solid night with 34 assists and no ball-handling errors. Bomberger added 13 digs and was in constant motion the entire match.
Rubio said earlier in the week that this match was an important one because of Arizona's position in the conference. And although he still feels that the game was important, Rubio is far from ready to throw in the towel.
"This was an important match, but it does not change our complexion for the season," Rubio said. "People have to realize that in every one of our losses, the team we faced has been ranked above us. But that does not change the fact that we have to toughen up mentally."
ù ù ù
Arizona will take a vacation from the Pac-10 Saturday as it faces independent Sacramento State. But this team is not a total stranger to Rubio. When he was coaching at Bakersfield, he faced the Hornets and Coach Debby Colberg in the divisional playoffs.
"Sacramento State is an independent working on getting into a new conference," Rubio said. "They do a nice job of ball control and have some good players and are a very well-coached team. What we have to avoid is a letdown after the ASU game."
Read Next Article