The Emerald City awaits - Tucson News Now

The Emerald City awaits

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) – It was another historic moment in a season that's been nearly filled with history.

“Certain things are so unexpected,” said Arizona head volleyball coach Dave Rubio. “I think if someone would have suggested that, I would have said I think you probably hit your head against the wall a few times.”

A reasonable response given what Arizona accomplished last week when, for the first time in program history, the Cats completed the season sweep of USC and UCLA, this from a team that, not too long ago had seen three of its top players suffer a variety of injuries, a team that started the season 0-3, a team that could electrify one night then fall flat the next.

“It’s difficult to lose early and feel like you have a chance to be elite,” said Rubio.”

Yet, that’s what Arizona has managed to accomplish. Their wins over 25th ranked USC and 9th ranked UCLA gave them 6 wins over their last 8 ranked opponents. The Wildcats have over taken USC as the 25th ranked team in the nation – the first time all season Arizona has been in the top-25. In addition, the Wildcats’ RPI went from 37 to 24, meaning depending on how the final three weeks turn out, Arizona may be in line for a NCAA tournament seed.

“You think about getting seeded two months ago, that was just a conversation we’d have passing by each other,” said Rubio. “Now that’s a serious conversation.”

It is. And so is this: The team’s fate is in its own hands, a point that Rubio has taken to driving home and with good reason.

Arizona shocked the conference with three straight wins over USC, UCLA, and Stanford. All ranked teams. All on the road. Then Arizona went into unranked Cal…and lost. A letdown to be sure. A one-time slip? Not necessarily. The Cats lost two more matches at home before getting back to their winning ways with an upset at (20) Oregon. The next match? A loss to unranked Oregon State.

“We’ve fallen prey to this pattern,” said Rubio. “We have a couple of really good wins against great programs then we kind of let down. We know against Washington, we can’t do that otherwise we’re going to get swept right off the floor up there.”

Washington and Washington State were the two schools that beat Arizona after Cal. At the time, the Huskies were ranked 7th. The Cougars were ranked 18th. This week, the Huskies are 11th. Wazzu is unranked. The trap has been set.

That said, a win at Washington would be Arizona’s first since 2002. Another historical moment.

Might as well just keep them coming.

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