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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

More than a desert duel

In tonight’s final home match the Wildcats will take on the ASU Sun Devils, and the significance surpasses the intrastate rivalry.

For the Wildcats (18-11, 10-10), a win tonight at 7 in McKale Center and a win on Saturday in Tempe will give them a shot at an NCAA tournament spot. The Sun Devils have only won four conference matches, making them ineligible for tournament play. Their current standing doesn’t mean they’ll be an easy win for the Wildcats, said UA head coach Dave Rubio.

“ASU is really good. They’ve been playing everyone super close,” Rubio said. “I talked to the USC coach (Mick Haley) and he said, ‘Dave, be careful, because ASU played us as well as anyone has played us.’ They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they’re aggressive and they’ve got nothing to lose.”

Tonight’s match will be one of the quickest turnarounds Rubio can ever remember. Arizona just got back from Los Angeles on Sunday after a weekend split, beating No. 2 UCLA and falling to No. 1 USC. After defeating the Wildcats on Saturday, the Trojans were named the Pac-12 Conference Champions.

The conference expansion with the coaches’ decision to play a double round-robin schedule forced Rubio and Arizona State head coach Jason Watson to play twice in one week, Rubio said.

On top of rivalry and tournament significance, tonight’s match is also senior night.

“I have a bunch of emotions. It’s sad, and I don’t want it to end,” said senior Courtney Karst.

Karst, along with fellow seniors Cursty Jackson and Marketa Hanzlova, will be honored during tonight’s match. All three have friends and family coming from all over the country, which is extra motivation for Jackson.

“I’m feeling really confident and excited,” Jackson said. “I realize how important this game is for postseason play and I’m just ready to win.”

Out of the three seniors, Karst is the only one who has been a Wildcat for a full four years.

By now, she knows how the system works and the importance of the team’s RPI.

Last Friday’s UCLA victory advanced the Wildcats’ RPI. If they lose one match against ASU, then their RPI score will considerably drop, she said.

Arizona is currently sitting in the 50th spot — there are 64 teams that go to the tournament.

“We can control our own fate,” Karst said.

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