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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Do or die

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona womens volleyball played Washington.  The Wildcats won.
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona women’s volleyball played Washington. The Wildcats won.

Before the season started, head coach Dave Rubio talked to his team about reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Arizona volleyball team is in the big dance, and the journey is tonight when the Wildcats take on Northwestern in the first round.

“”All I’ve heard about Northwestern is that they’re pretty good, but so are we,”” outside hitter Tiffany Owens said. “”We’ll be prepared … it’s a privilege for us to be in the tournament. We’re fortunate to be one of those 64 teams.””

Even though the Wildcats were swept at California and Stanford in their last weekend of conference play, junior middle blocker Cursty Jackson is still beaming with confidence.

“”(Northwestern) isn’t an extraordinary team from what I hear, but they’re very talented,”” Jackson said. “”We just have to go out there and play our game. If we play our game, we will definitely win.””

That confidence stems from playing in one of the best volleyball conferences in America. Unfortunately for Arizona, Northwestern comes from the Big-10, which is also regarded as a top conference in volleyball.

“”It’s going to be a good matchup on both ends,”” Rubio said. “”They’re going to have to slow us down a little bit. They’re going to look at us and say that we’re pretty athletic and physical. We may be a little more physical than they are, but I think in general the teams match up pretty well.

“”I think emotion is going to play a big part in this. We’re a team with a lot of seniors, they’re a team with a lot of seniors, it’s going to be a well-played match and it’s probably going to come down to execution at the end of each game.””

For the Arizona seniors, this is their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in two years. The experience they got last season has helped prepare them for the intricacies of tournament volleyball.

“”I think anytime you make it to postseason play, and you’ve got a group of players that are returning, it helps,”” Rubio said. “”This is going to be a long road trip, though. Whether or not that plays a part in it, I don’t know. I’m looking forward to seeing how we do.””

Should the Wildcats get past Northwestern, their side of the bracket matches up favorably. Arizona would likely take on host Northern Iowa on Saturday, which Rubio says is a good matchup for the Wildcats.

Even though he says that his team is taking the tournament one match at a time, Rubio already knows what a deep run in the tournament would mean for the program.

“”You’re always trying to go deep because of recruiting, it really puts a feather in your cap,”” Rubio said. “”We haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2005, and the same with the Elite 8. Bottom line is we have to beat some good teams to move on, and that’s going to be true when we play Northwestern.””

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