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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Volleyball thinking tournament despite struggles

    Though the chances of the Arizona volleyball team earning a spot in this year’s postseason seems slim at the moment, it might not be over quite yet.

    Arizona will have its work cut out if it wants to keep its postseason hopes alive when the Wildcats see two teams they fell to earlier in the season. The Wildcats (10-11. 1-8 Pacific 10 Conference) will face No. 11 California (15-5, 4-5) tonight and No. 3 Stanford (17-2, 8-1) tomorrow for a pair of 7 p.m. contests.

    In 2003, the Wildcats started off Pac-10 play with a five-game losing streak, but ended up winning seven of their last nine conference games to ultimately find themselves in the NCAA tournament.

    This year’s Wildcats are not willing to give up just yet, as they enter the second half of their Pac-10 schedule with hopes to follow in the footsteps of the 2003 squad.

    “”We are definitely very confident going into the second half of the season,”” said sophomore outside hitter Brooke Buringrud. “”We have some good momentum coming out of the Washington game, and I think we all have enough confidence to turn our season around.””

    The Wildcats have seen this tough slate of weekend games before, when they faced the Cardinal and the Golden Bears the weekend of Sept. 29.

    Arizona was able to take Cal to four games in the previous meeting but was swept by the Cardinal.

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said he felt good about where his team is at coming into this weekend’s homestand.

    “”You get a certain instinct with these kinds of things,”” Rubio said. “”Last week I felt like we were in a bad place. This week I’m confident in where we are at.””

    Added freshman outside hitter Whitney Dosty: “”I think our mindset is a lot different. This week of practice has been good for us and we are a lot more confident.””

    Buringrud said that playing the two squads earlier in the season gives them more knowledge of the opponents, something they didn’t possess going into the first match.

    “”We know their style of play,”” Buringrud said. “”We have a lot of confidence against Cal because the first time we played them it was so close, and we know this time we can beat them.””

    Arizona and Cal have split the season series between them the last four years, and the Golden Bears have not taken one from the Wildcats in McKale Center since 2003.

    “”If there is anything that we learned from the last time we played these teams, it is that we are capable,”” he said.

    The Wildcats know they will have an even bigger challenge when they face Stanford in the second game of the set, as the Cardinal bring a seven-match winning streak into the weekend, and are also posting a .300 hitting percentage, which is second in the Pac-10.

    Every Stanford victory this season has come by the way of a three-game sweep, except for its contest against UCLA on Oct. 19, where it won in five. The Cardinal are in the top three of every statistical category as a team in the Pac-10 except digs.

    “”Stanford is really starting to look like the old Stanford,”” Rubio said. “”It seems like ever since we played them they have been on fire.””

    But Buringrud said the Wildcats aren’t going to worry about the stats of the other teams.

    “”Of course we have thoughts of the (tournament): ‘We are going,'”” Buringrud said. “”In the past we have worried about our opponents, but this week we are just focusing on ourselves.””

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