Aug. 26, 2002
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Raising Arizona: Over the past three seasons the Arizona volleyball program has steadily improved on a national level and this season's senior class has played a major part in helping raise the Wildcats to an elite level among Division I schools. As a group, Lisa Rutledge, Stefani Saragosa, Shannon Torregrosa and Rachel Williams have played in 12 NCAA Tournament matches, been to the Sweet Sixteen three times, the Elite Eight twice and all contributed heavily in Arizona's first Final Four berth last season. The four seniors have combined to play in 347 matches, make 187 starts, play 1,103 games and record 2,309 kills.
The Schedule: In an attempt to prepare his squad for the always brutally tough Pac-10 season, head coach David Rubio has put together one of the most challenging schedules in the nation. The Wildcats are slated to play 29 matches in the regular season in 2002, including 18 against schools that took part in the 2001 NCAA Championship Tournament.
The Wildcats will take on NCAA Tournament participants Louisville, American, UT-Arlington and Sweet Sixteen foe No. 12 Pacific on the road prior to the opening of conference play. Among the teams slated to visit Tucson and the desert southwest in the pre-conference season are fellow Final Four participant no. 2 Nebraska and Sweet Sixteen member no. 8 Pepperdine.
The conference season gets no easier for Arizona. Laying in wait in the Pac-10 for the Wildcats are only the defending national champions and top-ranked Stanford, Elite Eight finishers no. 3 USC and no. 11 UCLA, tournament participants Washington State and Oregon State, as well as much improved teams from Cal, Arizona State and Washington.
Milestones To Watch For: Head coach David Rubio needs just three more wins for his 200th as the top man at Arizona ... Lisa Rutledge needs 29 starts this season to become the all-time school leader in matches started ... Although Barb Bell's school record of 1,859 career kills appears safe, a top three finish for Rutledge is not out of the question. Already seventh on the kills list, the senior outside hitter needs just 218 more to move into third all-time.
Pac-10 Coaches Preseason Poll: The Pac-10 coaches have placed Arizona third in their annual preseason poll. The Wildcats garnered 73 votes in the poll, trailing only defending Pac-10 Champion Stanford and USC. The coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own team, have correctly named the conference champion eight times in 13 tries.
Season Openers: In the 20 season opening matches since 1982 the Wildcats are 15-5 (.750) ... They have swept 11 opponents in their first match to start a season ... Arizona is 7-3 in season openers under David Rubio ... 2002 will mark the seventh straight season Arizona will open its season either on the road or on a neutral court ... Arizona is 8-3 on the road or on a neutral court in a season opener since 1982.
Arizona vs. The Louisville Invitational Field: The Wildcats will face UT-Arlington, American and Louisville in its first three matches this season. Arizona is 2-1 all-time against the three schools, having defeated American and Louisville each once and fallen to UTA. The Wildcats and UT-Arlington last met in 1988 with the Mavericks pulling out a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats in Arlington, Texas. UA and American met up in 1995 resulting in an Arizona sweep in the opening round of the Wildcat Classic. Invitational host Louisville was also a 3-0 victim to Arizona last season in the Wildcat Classic.
UT-Arlington Quick Hits: The Mavericks return all six starters and nine letter winners from last season's NCAA First Round team ... UTA went 22-12 overall in 2001 and finished fourth with a 13-7 mark in the Southland Conference ... UTA fell 0-3 to NCAA Tournament First and Second Round host and Elite Eight finisher Texas A&M ... The Mavericks are 138-117 in eight seasons under head coach Janine Smith ... UTA returns four players that tallied 300+ kills apiece in 2001, including senior Carol Bozikis who led the Mavericks with 364 kills last season.
American Quick Hits: The Patriot League champions return 10 letterwinners from last season's NCAA First Round team ... The Eagles finished last season 26-4 overall and a perfect 14-0 in conference play ... The Eagles fell 0-3 to Colorado in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2001 ... AU is 326-128 in 13 seasons under head coach Barry Goldberg ... Senior middle blocker Judit Szekelyhidi is the Eagles returning kills leader having tallied 238 last season .. Also returning in sophomore setter Sabrina Vasconcelos who dished out 1,010 assists in her freshman season for an average of 11.35 per game.
Louisville Quick Hits: The Cardinals return four starters and five letterwinners from last season's NCAA Second Round team ... UL finished last season 26-7 and second in Conference USA with a 13-3 mark ... Louisville defeated Georgia Tech in the first round of the postseason last year before falling to eventual Arizona victim Pacific, 1-3, in the second round ... Head coach Leonid Yelin has guided the Cardinals to a 142-49 record in six seasons ... Leading hitter, senior Sonja Percan, returns after posting an impressive 611 kills in 2001
We're #1: The 2002 freshman class at Arizona is easily the most highly regarded incoming crop of athletes in the program's 31-year history. Ranked the top recruiting class in the nation by Volleyball Magazine, all four players in the class are in the publication's Fab 50 for 2002, including the top two and three of the top six freshman players in the country. The class is composed of Jennifer Abernathy and Meghan Cumpston from California, Kim Glass from Pennsylvania, and Bre Ladd who opted to stay in Southern Arizona after attending Canyon Del Oro High School.
Arizona and Volleyball Magazine's 2002 Fab 50
1. Bre Ladd
2. Kim Glass
6. Jennifer Abernathy
34. Meghan Cumpston
Returning Player Points:
Lisa Rutledge: Has started on the outside all three years ...2001 All-Pac-10 ... Was named AVCA All-Pacific Region last season ... Established career highs in kills (417) and attempts (1,004) last season ... Is seventh on Arizona's career kill list with 1,056... Is averaging 3.47 kills per game, third-best in school history.
Stefani Saragosa: Three-year starter at middle blocker ... 2001 honorable mention All-Pac-10 ... Has the second-best career hitting percentage (.345) for any Arizona player with 1,000 or more career attempts ... Is averaging 1.06 blocks per game for her career, fifth best at Arizona ... Is seventh on the career list with 266 block assists and 11th in total blocks with 299 ... Will miss the first weekend due to a sore shoulder.
Shannon Torregrosa: Was named Arizona's first-ever AVCA National Player of the Week after averaging 5.83 kills per game and hitting .418 against No. 3 USC and No. 6 UCLA last season ... Established career-highs in kills (362) and attempts (900) in 2001.
Rachel Williams: Three-year starter at DS ... Will challenge for the role of Libero this season ... Has recorded 453 career digs in three seasons ... tallied a career-high 162 digs last season.
Christina Frost: Versatile player can fill into a number different roles ... Will see time as Libero/DS and in the front row as an OH ... Made four starts for the Wildcats in 2001 and was impressive in all.
Jolene Killough: A shot changer in the middle, Coach Rubio has been impressed with her development since her arrival at Arizona ... Saw limited action last season (26 games played).
Kelli Mulvany: 2001 honorable mention Freshman All-Pac-10 ... Provides a steady presence in the back row ... Will challenge for the Libero/DS role ... Recorded 212 digs in her first season, fourth most for a freshman player in school history.
Rochelle Ruen: Saw limited action in 2001, but will be called upon to challenge for the starting setter position this season.
Jennifer Abernathy: Ranked No. 6 in Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 for 2002 ... 2000 and 2001 High School All-American ... 2001 Contra Costa Times Athlete of the Year for all sports ... 2000 Contra Costa Times Volleyball Player of the Year ... High school MVP in 2000 and '01 ... 2001-02 Deer Valley Senior Athlete of the Year for all sports ... Was a member of the 2001 US Junior National Team along with current Arizona teammates Bre Ladd and Kim Glass.
Cassidy Crum: Transferred to Arizona from ACC Champion Duke University ... Recorded 37 kills in 68 games played at Duke ... Tallied 121 digs for a 1.78 dpg average before transferring ... Is the daughter of former Arizona football player Bob Crum.
Meghan Cumpston: Ranked no. 34 in Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 for 2002 ... Holds the school record for the most kills in single a season ... Was a two-time Eastern Athletic League All-League selection and was also named all-section in 2000 and 2001 ... 2001 all-tournament MVP ... 2001 team captain.
Laurie Gardner: Transferred to Arizona from Indiana University ... A three-year starter at setter for the Hoosiers, she will provide experience and depth in a critical position for the Wildcats ... Dished out 3,500 assists in three seasons in Bloomington ... Named 1999 Freshman All-Big Ten.
Kim Glass: 2001 Gatorade State Player of the Year for Pennsylvania ... Ranked second in Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 for 2002 ... Was named all-state three times (1999-2001) ... Three-time All-Lebanon League selection (1999-2001) ... Was twice honored as the Lebanon League MVP (2000-01) ... Twice helped Conestoga to District III titles (2001, 00) and a runner-up finish in 1999 ... 1999 and 2000 All-District III first team member ... Was member of three league title winning teams (1999-2001) ... Played for the 2002 US Junior National Team in Puerto Rico ... Was a member of the 2001 US Junior National Team along with current Arizona teammates Bre Ladd and Jennifer Abernathy.
Bre Ladd: 2001 Gatorade National High School Volleyball Player of the Year ... Top ranked high school recruit ... Ranked first in Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 for 2002 ... Tucson Citizen and Arizona Republic Arizona State Player of the Year ... 2001 Arizona 5A South MVP as voted on by the coaches ... Team captain in 2000 and 2001 ... Owns Canyon Del Oro High School records in kills in a match (21), kills in a season (428), career kills (971), career aces (146) and career blocks (146) ... Led CDO to the Class 5A state tournament quarterfinals in 2001, the furthest CDO has gone in school history ... Was a member of the 2001 USA Junior National Team along with current Arizona teammates Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy.
Head Coach David Rubio: Entering his 11th season as the top man at Arizona, Rubio has elevated the Wildcat volleyball program to one of the elite in all of Division I. Taking a team that did not win a conference match the season prior to his arrival, he has built a 197-97 record in 10 years. He has led the Wildcats to eight NCAA Tournament berths, including the last six straight, 15 tournament victories, five Sweet Sixteens ('93, '94, '99, 2000, '01), two Elite Eights (2000, '01) and Arizona's first-ever Final Four (2001). His efforts last season earned him Volleyball Magazine National Coach-of-the-Year honors.