By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona men's club volleyball team anticipated that they would play well at the 16-team UC-Davis Invitational last weekend.
That is exactly what they did.
Entering the tournament seeded 10th, the Wildcats finished in a tie for fifth place with Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and UC-Davis.
"The team played more focused and steady than they've played all year," assistant coach Skip Greenburgh said. "It was a huge comeback win for us. The team showed a lot of character."
In the first round of tournament pool play last Saturday, Arizona upset No. 3 UC-Davis 15-10, 6-15, 15-10.
During the crucial third game against Davis, the Wildcats were down 7-2 in rally scoring before coming from behind to take the win.
"Beating a top-ranked team gave us the confidence to really do something special," freshman setter Mike Bagesse said.
In the second round, Arizona cruised to a 15-5, 15-10 victory against Oregon State.
The two wins in pool play landed the Wildcats a No. 2 seed in the championship bracket and a match against a strong Humboldt State team that previously beat Southern Cal's NCAA Division I squad.
The Wildcats got crushed by Humboldt State 15-6, 15-6.
"In the first set we jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but our ball control was horrible and we had a total team breakdown," Greenburgh said.
Humboldt ended up taking second in the tournament, eventually losing to the No. 1-ranked club team in the country and defending tournament champion Cal.
The Wildcats started four freshmen in the tournament. Starting middle blockers Cody Sweet and Mike Wagner led the team with 15 and 13 blocks, respectively.
"The blocks were very big for us," Greenburgh said.
Greenburgh said he is hoping that the confidence the team gained over the weekend will reap rewards further along in the season.
"I expect practices to get better, our team is realizing what it will take to make that step up," Greenburgh said.
Arizona travels to Long Beach, Calif., this weekend to battle the top club and junior college teams in the country at the Long Beach Invitational.
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