AUSTIN, Texas - Four Arizona regulars topped the .300 hitting percentage mark and the 19th-ranked Wildcats pounded out a .375 team hitting efficiency en route to a 3-0 (8-15, 6-15, 7-15) victory over the No. 15 University of Texas volleyball team in an NCAA National Championship Tournament second-round contest at Gregory Gymnasium Friday evening. The Longhorns managed just a .150 team hitting percentage as they were dealt their first tournament defeat at home since the 1993 season. Texas finishes the season 22-8 while Arizona (21-10) moves on to the Pacific Regional against the winner of Friday's Stanford-Santa Clara match. It marked the first time since the 1994 campaign that Texas failed to advance to regional play, and was just the program's second loss in seven NCAA second-round contests.
"I'm shocked, I really am. I'm not shocked that Arizona played so well because they are a very good team that played great tonight, but I'm shocked at our performance. Arizona served very well and without a doubt this was our worst passing night of the year," said UT head coach Jim Moore. "We've seen tough serving before, but tonight we couldn't get past it and never recovered. The goal of every team which plays us is to serve us tough and take us out of our system of distributing the ball and coming at people fast. Arizona was the first team that was very successful in doing so against us. When we don't pass, we get ourselves out of sync and become very predictable."
Senior Erin Aldrich (Dallas, Texas / Lake Highlands) closed out her stellar two-year Longhorn career with nine kills to give her 470 on the season, placing her sixth on the UT single-season chart. Sophomore Kathy Tilson (Austin, Texas / Westlake) was the only Longhorn to reach double-digits in kills with 10, giving her 424 on the season and placing her eighth on the school's single-season list.
Arizona was led by Marisa DaLee's 12 kills in 16 swings for a .688 hitting percentage. Lisa Rutledge added 12 kills with a .435 hitting performance as five of the six Wildcats who had a swing hit over .300 for the match.
Texas led just twice in the entire match, the first instance coming in game one when the Horns grabbed a 5-4 lead after a Dana Burkholder hitting error. It was downhill from that point, however, as the Wildcats would score 11 of the next 14 points to post the 15-8 triumph. Arizona knocked down a .361 hitting efficiency in game one, including six kills apiece from Stefani Saragosa and Rutledge. Senior Sandra Reboucas (Orlando, Fla. / Cypress Creek / Univ. of Florida) paced Texas with five kills in nine swings for a .444 hitting percentage.
The Wildcats pounced on the Longhorns in the early stages of game two as they turned a 10-3 start into a 15-6 win. Texas again struggled on the attack, collecting just nine kills while converting at a .088 clip. Arizona had no such troubles as DaLee torched the Horns with five kills in five swings to help the Wildcats to a .353 team hitting percentage. Jill Talbot added five kills in 10 chances for Arizona, which also held a 19-9 advantage in digs in the frame.
Texas did all it could in game three to keep its season alive, taking a 5-2 advantage thanks to a four-point spurt that included a pair of kills by Aldrich. Arizona replied with a 9-1 run, included in which were five Longhorns miscues, and the Wildcats built an nearly insurmountable 11-6 lead. Texas freshman Amy Hultgren (Spencer, Iowa / Spencer) slammed down her first kill of the match in attempt to sway the momentum back to UT's side, but Arizona closed out the scoring with four straight points, three coming on Texas hitting errors and another on a service ace.
Head Coach Dave Rubio
"We played a wonderful match. That was about as good as it gets for us. Sweeping Texas was way beyond what we expected tonight. We stayed up late watching film deciding how to defend against the dump since Jill Gremmel had such a great match last night. We also wanted to keep Erin (Aldrich) off balance by having to block against all three of our attackers. We served extremely well. Texas couldn't get into any rhythm. This was one of those nights where everything seemed to be going our way. It wasn't just one or two things, but everything was adding up and we played relaxed and let the game come to us."
"The fact that we won in three really gives us confidence going into the sweet 16. Getting to the final 16 is just incredible. We've been close with other top-ranked teams this year but weren't able to catch them and beat them."
"We came into the match knowing that Jill and I would be the focal points of their defense. We normally find ways around that kind of defense. I've gone up against triple blocks all year long and we've always found ways around it. It does make this loss more emotional because we lost to Arizona. I began my career at Arizona and I'm ending it against Arizona it's kind of ironic."
"I got out of rhythm tonight and we all did as a team. We struggled all night long to get into any type of rhythm and we just couldn't do it."