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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volleyball off to Washington for last conference matches

    The Wildcats’ shutout of the Oregon schools last weekend was not only their first Pacific 10 Conference home sweep since the 2006 season, but it will also lift a load off their shoulders for their final conference road trip to Washington this weekend.

    Arizona (16-12, 6-10 Pac-10) will travel to Seattle to play Washington (22-4, 13-3) Friday at 7 p.m., then will head to Pullman to face Washington State (8-19, 1-15) Saturday at the same time.

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said he thinks the Wildcats have a high enough winning record to get into the NCAA Tournament after the Oregon sweep. But he, like other players, said it shouldn’t make a difference on their performance this weekend.

    “”It does kind of take a lot of pressure off our shoulders,”” said sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Owens. “”But it wouldn’t matter if we were going to the tournament or we weren’t going to the tournament: We still have to focus on trying to beat these Washington schools. We just need to keep our mind in the right place.””

    Sophomore middle blocker Stephanie Snow said not making the tournament the last two years has heightened the squad’s desire to make it this year, so it will be nice to be able to kick back and enjoy the ride in Washington.

    “”We’re good enough and we know we are,”” Snow said. “”So I think (the Oregon sweep) really lightens the load. … We can just go out there and play now without being worried about, ‘We need to win, we need to win,’ which has been our problem in the past.””

    It’s that time of year when term papers, tests and class projects start to pile up and the importance of time management for the student-athlete is second to none.

    Rubio made note of this in the locker room after the Oregon State match Sunday. He talked about how much life off the court – school included – would affect a player’s performance.

    “”Make sure you guys take care of business off the court,”” Rubio said. “”And like I said, everything you’re doing right now should be geared towards playing our best volleyball. Figure out what you need to do personally to get your stuff in order so that when you walk into practice and on the court you play your best.””

    Coaches and players have been continuously saying relaxation is their key ingredient to success, and that was demonstrated this weekend.

    The plan now is that their relaxation will hopefully board the plane to Washington with them.

    “”I think that we will definitely play better due to the lack of pressure,”” Snow said. “”We know that we can just go out there and play no matter what happens. … But at the same time, when we played Washington in our first match of Pac-10, it seems like so long ago. It’s like we’re playing them for the first time -ÿin my mind at least. They’ve improved as a team and so have we.””

    The Wildcats will enjoy their Thanksgiving meal at Rubio’s house then turn toward Washington, which beat Arizona 3-2 the last time the teams met.

    “”What I expect is for us to play like we did this weekend against the Oregon schools,”” Owens said. “”You know, maybe we can come up with another upset.””

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