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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Volleyball reflects on missing postseason for thrid stright year

    UA volleyball coach Dave Rubio instructs his team during a timeout. The Wildcats failed to reach the postseason for the third consecutive year.
    UA volleyball coach Dave Rubio instructs his team during a timeout. The Wildcats failed to reach the postseason for the third consecutive year.

    Despite being eligible for the NCAA tournament, the Arizona volleyball team won’t be going this time around for the third straight season.

    The Wildcats finished seventh in the Pacific 10 Conference – one rank too low for the six bids into the 64-team tournament.

    After the Oregon sweep at home two weekends ago, coaches and players said the wins “”took the pressure off”” of their shoulders.

    UA head coach Dave Rubio previously said he thought the Wildcats would go to the post-season tournament because of their winning record (16-14, 6-12) and “”enough significant wins.””

    The squad met Sunday evening after their return from Washington to watch the selection show in which the teams that made the tournament were announced.

    The results were disappointing, to say the least.

    “”I was heartbroken, to be honest,”” UA senior Brooke Buringrud said. “”I was kind of numb at first, then I just realized that with something like that you have to just say, ‘It is what it is,’ and move on. I was disappointed. I feel like our team deserves to be in that tournament.””

    Buringrud also credited the Pac-10’s significant strength, and a squad’s record doesn’t always reflect how good it is. The senior said she was disappointed her team couldn’t make the tournament even though it “”can compete with all of those teams.””

    Imagine how the players felt when they saw they didn’t make the cut.

    The set up for a letdown may seem like a displeasing way to end the season, but outside of the dark clouds and rain, there were rays of light that shone through for the players.

    Outside hitter Tiffany Owens was named to the All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention list for her season.

    The sophomore led her squad with 10 double-doubles, 333 kills (tenth in the conference), 925 attempts and was second on the team with 274 digs.

    She was also named national and conference Player of the Week following her performance against the Oregon schools two weeks ago.

    “”I’m proud of her,”” UA senior Randy Goodenough said of her teammate. “”She’s grown for sure this year, and I think her role last year as a freshman and a starter helped her develop into the leader she is now. … She’s a baller, that’s for sure.””

    UA freshmen Dana Hutchinson and Courtney Karst were also honored in their first season at Arizona. The two were named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention list.

    Karst finished her first season as a Wildcat with 75 kills (.287), 29 digs and 33 blocks. Hutchinson contributed her own 49 kills, 104 digs, nine blocks and 12 aces.

    Regardless of the newbies’ acknowledged seasonal performance, they were surprised with the award.

    “”I was shocked actually, because I didn’t think I did that much,”” Karst said. “”Dave told me and Dana on Monday (about the honorable mention list) and even though we played a lot, we didn’t feel like we contributed that much. We didn’t start, and I think that’s what our main goal was.””

    Skills on the court have given players their awards, but three teammates were recognized for their performance when it came to hitting the books.

    On top of finishing the season with more than 1,000 assists (10.58 per set, fifth in the conference) for her second straight season and seventh on the school’s all-time assists list (2,451 total), UA sophomore setter Paige Weber made the Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team for her accomplishments as a pre-business student and has a 3.79 GPA.

    Teammates Kaylen Bannister and Goodenough were also recognized for their hard work in the classroom when they were named to the All-Academic Honorable Mention list.

    All of the awards and gold stars are great for a volleyball player’s resume, but the real memories come from the experiences shared with the team – whether they be dancing to “”The Lion King”” soundtrack in the locker room or coming together as a team and beating a rival.

    The latter is more along the lines of what Goodenough brought to light of her last season as a Wildcat.

    “”My personal highlight of the season was the ASU game at home,”” the senior said. “”It was kind of a turning point for the team. … We won the first game, then we were down and I got a chance to go in and make a difference. Beating ASU that night was something I’ll never forget.””

    The Wildcats were upset about how their season ended, because they thought they had what it took to be in the tournament.

    “”I think some of us, including myself, were probably angry,”” Rubio said of the selection results.

    The head coach said the records of the teams that were selected for the tournament do not match up to Arizona’s.

    “”But I think the message that needs to be said is that we can’t put ourselves in a position to allow the committee to decide our fate in the future,”” Rubio said. “”We have to control that aspect of it so that we know our record is going to stand by itself and we’re not going to have to be concerned about being a bubble team. The way you do that is win more.””

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