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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats sweep Oregon schools

    Arizona outside hitter Tiffany Owens swats the ball during a 3-0 win over Oregon State on Sunday afternoon in McKale Center. Owens led the Wildcats with 35 kills and 25 digs in two wins against the Oregon schools during the weekend.
    Arizona outside hitter Tiffany Owens swats the ball during a 3-0 win over Oregon State on Sunday afternoon in McKale Center. Owens led the Wildcats with 35 kills and 25 digs in two wins against the Oregon schools during the weekend.

    It’s been 743 days since the Arizona volleyball team last swept two Pacific 10 Conference competitors at home.

    This weekend, the Wildcats (16-12, 6-10 Pac-10) broke the mold when they beat No. 8 Oregon (18-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-12) Friday night and Oregon State (25-21, 25-17, 25-18) Sunday afternoon in McKale Center.

    It could have been because they were the last home games of the season and, more specifically, the last time the three seniors – Brooke Buringrud, Randy Goodenough and Brittany Leonard – would play in McKale Center.

    In the spirit of Senior Day against the Beavers (14-15, 3-13), the trio was given roses and the crowd was full of homemade posters and face cutouts of the seniors on Popsicle sticks.

    And after the match, the team went to Sam Hughes Place Championship Dining for an organized and catered event, which included a video for the seniors.

    Buringrud’s mother, Kerri, had never put a video together before and said, “”Whether or not they like it, it was made with love.””

    In the locker room after the last home match, UA head coach Dave Rubio briefly told the players how proud he was of them, then shifted all attention forward.

    “”Congratulations guys; this certainly puts us in the driver’s seat now for the post-season,”” Rubio said. “”No we go up to the Washington schools and we play without pressure – we just go out and play hard, just like we have been.””

    He added that he’s assuming the squad is going to the tournament because of its winning record, but it’s still not set in stone.

    Regardless of how the tournament pans out, the team was very excited about its first sweep at home since Nov. 9, 2006, which was clear to Goodenough following her final home match.

    “”Oh gosh, I was just trying to take it all in the whole time,”” the senior said. “”I’ve been playing on this court for four years and it’s been ups and downs and twists and turns, and I love McKale so it was just a bittersweet day. But it also feels great to go out with a win, no matter what.””

    Sure, Sunday’s match was significant, being the last home match of the season, but the Wildcats conquered the No. 8 Ducks (22-7, 10-6) two days prior to that.

    It wasn’t the first upset for the home squad, but Rubio was more impressed with Friday than he was in some previous upsets this season.

    “”Beating Oregon was a big win for us, but we’ve had some big wins – obviously with Cal and USC,”” Rubio said. “”The thing that was different with Oregon was that we played really well from start to finish. … Not very many lapses in that game.””

    Building up to that match, the teammates had some terrific practices, Rubio said, adding that they are growing and maturing as members of the team because of their ability to trust the coaching staff and bond with each other on the court.

    Rubio also said the players have been playing with a lot more confidence, despite the difficult conference they’re in.

    “”It’s really been a tribute to those guys – the team – and the leadership that’s within the team to stay the course,”” Rubio said. “”And we talk about how discouraging it can be. I mean believe me, it gets discouraging; you lose to some pretty good teams and you can intellectually say, ‘Well they’re … a five or they’re a six team in the country,’ but it still hurts.””

    He also said it’s easy to get discouraged, and it can become a lack of confidence – like a domino effect – but the players toughed it out and hung in there.

    The only thing left to do for the squad is cope with away crowds and play with the same intensity as it does on its home hardwood – with or without floating Popsicle-stick faces.

    “”I guess now it’s time to learn how to play away,”” Goodenough said. “”We have to be able to go into a game no matter what gym we’re at and play our game like we do at home, so that’s going to be our next challenge for us.””

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