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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Ahhhh, kitty, kitty!”

    Before each game in a match, the seven starters on the Arizona volleyball team stand in a circle holding hands with their arms raised in the air, exchanging some words of encouragement. Then they swing their arms in a circle, release one another’s grasp and clap once in unison while cheering the same phrase:

    “”Ahhhh, kitty, kitty!””

    “”Because we’re Wildcats,”” explained opposite hitter Randy Goodenough.

    The simple, yet catchy phrase is nearly a decade old. It was created by Allison Napier, currently with the Wildcats for her first year as an assistant coach, sometime when she donned the cardinal and navy as a player from 1997-2000.

    “”It’s funny to have her on the bench and have her cheer still going,”” Goodenough said. “”I remember one time she said, ‘Wait a minute. I started that tradition.’ “”

    Napier also helped take the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 in 1999 as a junior and to Arizona’s first Elite Eight a year later.

    This year’s squad hopes the same kind of postseason appearances become tradition as well.

    Put simply, history recycles itself. Records are constantly being broken, old fashion statements come back into play and gas prices eventually drop back down to a level that people don’t complain about.

    OK, not all history recycles itself.

    But with a team that returns a lineup responsible for 95 percent of the team’s kills and three-fourths of blocks from a year ago, this could be the year history comes back around to head coach Dave Rubio’s squad.

    Arizona reached the postseason for 10 straight years before last season, when it went 13-17. Yep, a whole decade. You can’t say a team has completely fallen off the face of the Earth just because of one bad season.

    The Wildcats have opened their season on a high note. Already in three matches, three players have posted four double-doubles and three new career highs. That’s not to mention the 24-year-old digs record broken by senior libero Katie Jackels.

    And then there are five new freshmen on the roster, including two top-50 national recruits – Paige Weber and Tiffany Owens – made impacts as starters this weekend in the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic.

    True, Stephanie Butkus, who ended her career second all-time in Wildcat history with 4,035 assists, graduated after last season. But Weber – who has been compared to former Wildcat and two-time All-American Dana Burkholder – has already taken her place without a hitch.

    Then there’s Owens, who recorded a match-high 13 kills on a .407 hitting percentage and eight digs in the first match of her collegiate career this weekend – with a stress fracture in her shin.

    “”I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous,”” Owens said with a smile. “”But it was fun.””

    You know what else is fun? Making it to the postseason. With a more athletic, versatile and talented team than last season, the Wildcats should jump back on that winning-wagon pulled by the tradition-train.

    Said outside hitter Brooke Buringrud in her online blog Saturday: “”It’s going to be a good year. I can feel it.””

    Lance Madden is a journalism sophomore. He can be reached at

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