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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volleyball to play final homestand

    Families, friends and out-of-state Wildcat fans will make the trip to Tucson this weekend to celebrate the last McKale Center performances of three seniors.

    The Arizona volleyball team (14-12, 4-10 Pacific 10 Conference) will play its last two home matches of the season against No. 8 Oregon (21-6, 9-5) tonight at 7 p.m. and Oregon State (14-13, 3-11) Sunday at noon.

    Senior night will honor outside hitter Brooke Buringrud, right side hitter Randy Goodenough and libero Brittany Leonard on Sunday for their four years on the squad.

    UA head coach David Rubio said the trio will be recognized for all their accomplishments throughout their careers and will receive fresh bouquets of flowers.

    The first word out of Goodenough and Leonard’s mouths to describe their last McKale night was “”bittersweet.””

    “”I’m excited to go out and play our best,”” Goodenough said. “”I think the seniors are excited to go out and have a great weekend because it’s our last. We have to just take it all in for our last weekend here.””

    As sentimental as the upcoming night will be for most, Rubio remains prepared for the battle that lies ahead.

    The Wildcats lost to Oregon 3-0 in the teams’ last meeting on Oct. 25 in Eugene, Ore. For this weekend’s game, the players have been prepping for the Ducks with scouting reports primarily researched by UA assistant coach Steve Walker.

    “”In the last two seasons Oregon has, without a doubt, stockpiled a much better talent pool for themselves,”” Walker said. “”They’re the most physical that they’ve ever been and easily the most skilled that they’ve ever been, and then add experience on top of that and you easily have the best Oregon team they’ve ever had.””

    The Ducks have been ranked in the top 10 most of the season and have shown a competitive nature against each team in their path.

    Walker said he was most impressed with Oregon’s talent and ability to compete on a nightly basis.

    “”And you’ll notice their really fast system when we play them (tonight),”” the assistant coach said. “”They’re probably the fastest system in the conference offensively.””

    In order to meet their opponent’s speediness, Walker said the UA plans to adjust its defense in the backcourt to match the strong Oregon attack.

    Rubio said it’s been a “”day-to-day grind”” in practice, which has been balanced with similar preparation for the next challenger on the schedule.

    “”It’s like every weekend is the same for me: last weekend against UCLA and USC, the week before that against Stanford and Cal,”” Rubio said of the similarities of the team’s weekly preparations. “”So every weekend the challenge that’s presented is the same type of challenge you saw the weekend before. You have to be well-prepared regardless.””

    Rubio said Oregon State outside hitter Rachel Rourke is one of the best players in the league. He said she has a physical presence on the court, so the Wildcats will work Sunday to slow her down.

    “”There’s a good balance on the rest of the team,”” Rubio said. “”But the thing about this conference is that you’re not going to do really well unless you have some really good outside hitters.””

    Senior memories

    The trio of seniors hope to be as prepared as ever because their loved ones are coming to Tucson to see them play for the last time on the home hardwood.

    “”My parents are going to be here. … Brittany’s parents and sisters. … Brooke’s clan is coming,”” Goodenough said. “”It’s going to be really fun having our family behind us and to be there for us for our last game in McKale.””

    When asked what her most memorable moment in her four years was, Leonard had to stop and think – it was like asking a jeweler to pick his favorite diamond masterpiece out of thousands.

    “”I think that freshman year when we almost made it to the Final Four was my best memory,”” the libero said. “”I’ll never forget that moment when we played at Santa Clara. Even though we lost, it was still memorable because we were so close.””

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