Rubio evaluates volleyball's tournament chances

By Ron Parsons

Arizona Daily Wildcat

With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Arizona women's volleyball team is on the bubble for an NCAA tournament berth.

Head coach Dave Rubio said the Wildcats will have to perform well in their final five matches to be invited. After playing the Los Angeles schools this weekend, Arizona faces Arizona State on Nov. 17 before going on the road for a pair of matches against No. 3 Hawaii.

Rubio said there are two realistic scenarios in which the Wildcats could make the NCAAs. One of those involves Arizona winning at least two of its last three Pacific 10 Conference matches.

"Based on our non-conference record, we need to get eight Pac-10 wins," Rubio said.

Another scenario has Arizona winning one of its last three Pac-10 matches and earning a split against Hawaii.

"Both are daunting tasks," Rubio said, "but (making the tournament) is something we're certainly capable of doing."

Stanford, ranked No. 4 in the nation, captured its second straight Pac-10 title after sweeping the Washington schools last weekend.

The Cardinal (22-2 overall , 15-0 in the Pac-10), the defending national champion, has won 19 straight matches this season and 54 of its last 57, including 32 of its last 33 Pac-10 matches.

"They're almost in a whole different echelon in the Pac-10," Rubio said. "Sometimes it almost seems unfair."

Despite losing to Stanford, No. 10 Washington State (18-4, 10-4) held on to second place in the conference.

UCLA (9-5, 16-6) and Southern Cal (12-7, 8-6) in are third and fourth, respectively. Both schools travel to Arizona this weekend for a pair of matches.

No. 15 Arizona State (14-7, 8-7) is fifth. The Sun Devils split with the Oregon schools last week.

The Washington Huskies (11-11, 6-8) held on to sixth place, and Arizona fell to seventh. The Wildcats (14-9, 6-9) split with the Oregon schools last week.

Oregon State (11-13, 4-11), which upset Arizona in five sets on Sunday, dropped to eighth place in the conference.

Swept by the Washington schools last week, California (11-13, 4-11) dropped to ninth. With just one conference win to date, the Oregon Ducks (8-17,1-13) are in last place.

Arizona junior outside hitter Barb Bell is second in the Pac-10 in kills and fourth in kills average. In 86 games, Bell has hit 397 kills for a 4.61 average.

Due to her efforts against the Oregon schools last week, Bell was a nominee for Pac-10 player of the week. She had 55 kills in nine games over the weekend.

Sophomore middle blocker Stephanie Venne leads the Pac-10 in aces with 31, and is fourth in aces-average with .36 per game. Senior setter Laura Bartsch (28 aces) is fifth with a .34 average.

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