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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Rubio looking to repeat history

In 1999, Arizona went to Texas for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, beat Virginia and upset Texas in the second round. If Arizona beats Michigan State today in first round play, No. 1 seed Texas is looking like it will be its next opponent.

UA head coach Dave Rubio said this year, the Arizona volleyball team will strive to repeat history.

The Wildcats (19-12, 11-11) will take on the Spartans in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament today in Austin, Texas, at 3:30 p.m.

The biggest difference between Arizona and Michigan State is age, which can sometimes be more influential than skill.

“They’re old, they play old and they’re physical,” Rubio said. “Not a great combination for us.”

For the Wildcats, four out of the seven starting players are freshmen, whereas the Spartans have five seniors out of their starting seven. With that maturity comes poise in high-pressure matches, Rubio said.

With seven players who are at least 6-foot-1, the Spartans are noticeably taller than the Wildcats. Taller girls are often slower on offense, but compensate for their drag with power. Compared to Arizona’s offense, Michigan State is slower with its sets, Rubio said. But they can score in any position, he added.

“They’re big and physical,” Rubio said. “We’re mostly freshmen, they’re mostly seniors. Lets hope the youth wins out.”

Regular season wins are now irrelevant and each team heads into the tournament with a clean slate. Based on experience, Rubio said the winning team is often the team that maintains its composure in do-or-die situations.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and the team that does the best is the team that can handle the jitters and play with a calm mindset,” Rubio said. “If we can do that, I feel good about our chances. I hate to be so cliché, but we’ll just take it one match at a time.”

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