All-American Becky Gumpert leads charge for women
The Hillenbrand Aquatic Center will go to the cats and dogs today.
The Wildcat men's and women's swimming and diving teams will take on the University of New Mexico Lobos today at 2 p.m. Both of last year's Arizona teams swept UNM, the men winning 163-107 and the women 189-86.
This year, however, 11-time All-American Becky Gumpert is the lone returning senior on a young women's team. Providing experience alongside Gumpert is junior Ashley Tappin, the NCAA title holder in both the 50- and 200-meter freestyle. Last year, the women finished fifth at the NCAA championships.
Freshmen sprint freestrokers Casey Legler, Liesl Kobiesen and Nancy Owens and Amy Hall (butterfly, individual medley), Dianna Grogg (backstroke) and Leah Zucker (IM, freestyle) are competing in their first meet.
The Wildcat men are led by 1996 Olympic team hopeful Chad Carvin. Seniors Jason Hodder (breaststroke) and Brian Matthews (sprint free), juniors Abe Wick (sprint freestyle) and Adam Grodzki (distance freestyle) and sophomore Trever Gray (backstroke) all return to this year's team with NCAA championship experience. Freshman Mark Hawthorne from Tucson's Amphitheater High School will compete in the breaststroke for the Wildcats.
On the diving team, honorable mention All-American Brian Spears and Andre Sabbah will lead the men. Freshman Kevin Francis is the only newcomer for the Wildcats.
Tomorrow, the men host a tri-meet with Northern Arizona and Texas at Hillenbrand at 1 p.m.
Ÿ Ian Parkman
Volleyball hopes to get back on track in Oregon
The 20th-ranked Arizona women's volleyball team heads to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for a pair of Pac-10 matches against the Oregon schools.
Tonight, Arizona (13-8) plays the Oregon Ducks (7-15) at 7 at MacArthur Court in Eugene. Sunday, the Wildcats face Oregon State (9-13) at Gill Colesium in Corvallis at 11 a.m.
Arizona swept the Oregon schools earlier this season.
The Wildcats, 5-8 in Pac-10 play, have lost five of their last six matches. The only win was an Oct. 21 upset of No. 5 Washington State on the road.
California and fourth-ranked Stanford both swept Arizona in straight sets last week in Tucson.
After the Stanford match, Coach David Rubio attributed the Wildcats' problems to youth, pressure, and personal problems.
In an attempt to get the Wildcats back on track, Rubio held player conferences and team meetings during the week.
"We've had some good conferences the past couple days, and it's important we did these, " he said. "We just need to try to get everyone back on the same page."
Getting back on the same page means cutting down on unforced errors. Last week, Arizona committed 65 hitting errors against the Bay Area schools, while combined, Stanford and Cal had just 39.
"Our unforced error ratio is way too high," Rubio said. "I think that through the meetings some of that stuff will get worked out, and we'll be able to get back on track and our execution will be a little better."
Tonight's match against the Ducks might be just what the doctor ordered for Arizona's recent Pac-10 woes. Oregon, under first-year head coach Cathy Nelson, has won just one of its 12 conference matches. The Wildcats lead the series 15-7 and have taken the past six matches.
Junior outside hitter Amy McNeel leads the Oregon attack. McNeel, who averages 3.11 kills-per-game, also can play defense. She leads the Pac-10 in digs with 337 for a 4.01 average.
Cassey Crisler, a sophomore setter, is seventh in the Pac-10 in assists with a 9.93 assists-per-game average.
Oregon State (3-9 in the Pac-10) is led by the tandem of setter Miya Malauulu and hitter Heather Lowe. Malauulu, a sophomore, is second in the Pac-10 in assists with a 12.94 average. In total kills, she is first, with 1,113.
Ÿ Ron Parsons
UA soccer closes season on road
In its second season as a Division I soccer program, the Wildcat women's soccer team already has improved on its dismal inaugural 1994 season. With just three wins last year, Arizona has doubled that amount this season with two more games to play.
UA (6-9 overall, 1-4 in the Pac-10) will travel to the Bay Area for the last two games of the year against California today at noon and Stanford Sunday at 1 p.m. It will mark the first time that the Wildcats play these schools.
"This should be a fun weekend for our team. We are playing some awesome competition and that is what makes you better as a team," head coach Lisa Fraser said.
Fraser is right about the quality of the competition. The Cardinal are currently ranked No. 9 in the country with an overall record of 14-3 and are at the top of the Pac-10 with a record of 6-0. Stanford is also working on a seven-game winning streak and its three loses have come against No.1 North Carolina 3-0, No. 2 Notre Dame 2-0, and No. 13 Santa Clara 3-2.
Stanford is led by goalie Erin Bryla, who has saved 46 of 59 shots fired at her this season for a .79 goal-per-game average. Erin Martin has 51 shots on goal and 13 goals for the Cardinal.
The Golden Bears are 7-9 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-10. Cal is trying to get to the .500 mark with two more games to play, one against UA and another against sixth-ranked Santa Clara. Cal is coming of defeats by the University of San Francisco 2-0 and Portland 4-0.
"These are two well-coached teams that have traditionally strong soccer programs. Both have a strong history. Cal has not done as well this season as they have in the past, but they always play tough. Both of these games will be tough, tough matches for us," Fraser said.
For the Wildcats, freshman forward Nicki Jones is coming off the second hat trick in school history with three goals in Arizona's 4-2 win over Cal-State Sacramento Sunday. The first was by Jen Duran in last year's 3-1 victory over Texas Tech.
Ÿ Steve Fanucchi
Wildcat rugby team set to face OSU
The Arizona rugby team begins its season tomorrow against Oregon State in Corvallis. The game, which starts at 3:30 p.m., is being advertised as a curtain-raiser to the UA-OSU football game which begins at 8 p.m.
The trip marks the first visit to Oregon by a UA rugby team. The Beavers and Wildcats have played only once before, a 3-0 UA win in the Pacific Regional playoffs in 1985.
The Wildcats finished last season with a 9-8 record. The team returns 10 starters.
Sunday, Arizona takes on Reed College in Portland.
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