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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volleyball works on finishing for WSU

    There’s not much satisfaction in working hard to complete a task and ending up short. The Arizona volleyball team knows this all too well.

    Headed into Pullman, Wash., to face Washington State tonight at 7, the Wildcats expect their practices – geared toward finishing games strong – to help them improve on a 1-3 start to Pacific 10 Conference play.

    “”We tried to create a lot of game-like situations,”” said middle blocker Jacy Norton. “”(Opponents) attack us when the score’s really tight, and we have a hard time finishing. So we set the score at 25-25 in practice this week to work on competing towards the end because we have a problem closing out games.””

    The practice regimen was created in response to Arizona’s loss to then-No. 21 Oregon in three games Friday. At times, the Wildcats (11-3) led games by as many as 10 points but couldn’t avoid the sweep. They lost 31-29 in each of the last two games.

    “”That’s been the story all year,”” said setter Paige Weber, whose 12.43 assists per game are fourth best in the Pac-10. “”We play well and stick with teams up to 25, then fall off. You can’t simulate the pressure of losing in a game in practice , but it does put the pressure there to close in the end.””

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said the team is still in a state of maturation and that in time, it will work out the kinks.

    “”Eventually, if you work hard enough and get tired enough of losing, as a group, you get over that hump,”” he said.

    Though WSU (9-9, 0-3) has settled at the bottom of the conference standings, the Cougars host the Wildcats in Bohler Gym, a 3,000-capacity venue that is the only one in the Pac-10 designed specifically for volleyball.

    What’s more, the game is part of WSU’s Homecoming celebration. Still, Rubio said that the location and the game’s placement in the week will be beneficial to the Wildcats.

    “”(Bohler Gym) is a terrific place to play,”” Rubio said. “”Unfortunately for (the Cougars), it’s (on) a Thursday night. Fridays are better from a fan standpoint, so there won’t be as many fans cheering them on.””

    Arizona has better numbers than WSU in every category, as the Wildcats hit .231 and average 15.12 kills and 15.84 digs. With 3.54 blocks per game, the Wildcats rank second in the nation.

    With the altered practice routines, and progressive maturation, Rubio said that the team will only get better, and a win over the Cougars would only help.

    “”Eventually this team is going to find a way,”” he said. “”I really, truly believe that inside this team beats the heart of a champion.””

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