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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball draws Cleveland State in first round of NCAA tournament

Logan Cook

Arizona women’s volleyball is going dancing for the fourth consecutive season. The Wildcats will face Cleveland State (25-5, 14-2 Horizon League) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 3 p.m., in East Lansing, Michigan.

The match will be hosted by the No. 9 seed Michigan State. If the Wildcats advance after Friday’s match, they will face the winner of Michigan State and Fairfield.

“I’m looking forward to making the trip over there to East Lansing,” Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said on a Twitter video by Arizona Volleyball. “Michigan State and Cleveland State are both great opponents, and we’ll play Cleveland State and give it our best shot.”

The draw for Arizona is not an easy one, as it’s part of the bracket features a virtual murderer’s row of competition, placing Nebraska and Penn State—winners of eight out of the last 10 national championships—in the Wildcats’ region. To make matters more difficult, the Wildcats may have to face fellow Pac-12 Conference foe Washington in a potential Regional matchup, already having lost to the Huskies twice this season.

“You feel like what you’re going to face in the tournament is something you have already dealt with and already expereienced in the conference like the Pac-12,” Rubio said. “We feel pretty confident that what we faced in the conference is going to prepare us for what we’re going to see against Cleveland State.”

The NCAA is previewing a new format for the tournament this season which omits predetermined regional sites. The seeded team of each region will host the first and second rounds, meaning if Arizona advances, both matches will be played in East Lansing.

Arizona finished the season on a sour note by losing at rival ASU, and the Wildcats ended with an 18-14 overall record and 10-10 in the Pac-12.

This is the 19th time head coach David Rubio has taken the Wildcats to the tournament and 28th appearance in school history. Arizona has one Final Four appearances in 2001, but is yet to advance further.

Click here for the complete 2016 NCAA bracket.

The senior starters will be looking for the program’s first national championship this year, on their fourth and final trip to the tournament.

“They certainly have a lot to play for,” Rubio said. “I’m really proud of those girls and how they led the team throughout the season and we’ll just see how it comes throughout this week.”

Follow Nikki Baim on Twitter.

Video courtesy of ESPN.

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