THE SEASON: No. 14 Arizona (21-11, 12-6) made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and earned its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1994. The Cats matched their best-ever record and finish in the Pac-10. Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee and sophomore setter Dana Burkholder, who set a UA single-season record for assists per game, earned All-District 8 honors.
Arizona Honors All-District 8 Dana Burkholder Marisa DaLee All-Pac-10 Dana Burkholder Marisa DaLee Lisa Rutledge (Honorable Mention) Freshman All-Pac-10 Lisa Rutledge Stefani Saragosa (Honorable Mention) Stat Leaders Kills: Marisa DaLee (3.71) Hitting Percentage: Marisa DaLee (.381) Assists: Dana Burkholder (12.89) Aces: Jill Talbot (0.38) Digs: Dana Burkholder (2.84) Blocks: Marisa DaLee (1.23)
NCAA NOTES: Arizona played 12 teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament this year, posting a 6-11 mark against them. More than half of the Cats' matches came against teams that qualified for the postseason. The Cats played five of the Sweet 16 teams ... No. 18 Arizona was the second-lowest ranked team to earn a spot in the Sweet 16, ahead of only No. 22 Minnesota ... This marked the Cats' 15th NCAA appearance. Only Stanford (19), UCLA (18) and USC (17) have more in the Pac-10 and only 10 teams nationally have participated in more NCAAs than Arizona ... The Cats are 12-15 overall in the NCAA Tournament and 8-6 under David Rubio.
WILDCAT NOTES: The Cats ranked 22nd in the nation in blocking, averaging 2.96 per game. They finished second in the Pac-10 in blocks ... Arizona matched its best-ever conference mark of 12-6, set in 1997 and '98. UA's fourth-place finish in league play also equaled its best ever ('98) ... The Cats set a team season record by averaging 14.59 assists per game, breaking their previous mark of 14.39, set in 1998 ... Arizona's eight attack errors at Oregon (11/19) were the fewest by a Wildcat team since UA committed just seven in a sweep vs. BYU on Sept. 28, 1985 ... The Cats swept the Washington schools on the road (11/5-6) for just the fourth time since Pac-10 play started in 1986, but for the second year in a row ... Arizona's 21-19 victory in game five of its match with Washington (11/5) marked the second-longest fifth game in school history. ASU defeated Arizona, 24-22, in Tucson on Oct. 15, 1993 ... The Cats took two games and forced three match points against UCLA (10/22) after the Bruins had lost just two games in their first 10 league contests ... Arizona (.220) was the first team to hit better than .200 against UCLA this season ... Arizona faced three consecutive ranked opponents (#17 Southern California, #6 UCLA, #8 Brigham Young) for the first time since November 15-21, 1996 ... Prior to defeating Arizona State (10/30), UA had dropped three straight contests for the first time since Oct. 6-19, 1996 ... The Cats were swept in a home Pac-10 weekend series (vs. USC/UCLA) for the first time since the same two schools did so on Nov. 10 and 12, 1995 ... Kristee Porter's 36 kills for UCLA at Arizona (10/22) were the most ever by a Wildcat opponent ... The Cats' sweep of Oregon (9/17) marked the sixth time they had held a Pac-10 opponent below a .100 hitting percentage in each game of a match ... The 3,874 people in attendance at the UA-Nebraska match (9/11) marked the sixth-largest crowd ever to see a Wildcat volleyball contest ... The Cats ranked 20th nationally in attendance, averaging 987 fans per match ... The Cats' sweep of No. 18 San Diego (9/4) was their first victory over a ranked opponent since a five-game win at home against No. 7 USC on Nov. 21, 1997, breaking a seven-match losing streak.
NCAAs: Arizona raced through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament without dropping a game, sweeping Virginia and 15th-ranked Texas in Austin, Texas, Dec. 2-3., before falling to No. 2 Stanford in the Pacific Region semifinals in Palo Alto, Dec. 9.
In the first round, senior outside hitter Raelene Elam's season-high 17 kills paced three Cats in double figures as UA topped the Cavaliers, 15-8, 15-4, 15-12. UA set a school record for team hitting percentage in NCAA play (.389), including .576 in game two.
In the second round, Arizona out-hit the Longhorns, .375-.150 en route to the surprisingly easy win. After the first game was deadlocked at eight, the Cats outscored Texas, 37-13, the rest of the way. DaLee and Rutledge each posted 12 kills with DaLee setting a school record for hitting percentage in an NCAA match at .688. Former Wildcat Erin Aldrich was held to nine kills and a .240 hitting percentage in her final collegiate match. The win was Arizona's first over a higher-ranked opponent since defeating No. 7 Southern California in Tucson on Nov. 21, 1997.
In the Pacific Region semifinals, Arizona jumped to a 10-0 lead at Stanford and held a 12-1 advantage when outside hitter Lisa Rutledge suffered a sprained right ankle. The Cats held on to win game one, but could not recover from the setback and lost in four.
HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO: David Rubio (Cal State Northridge '82) wrapped up his eighth season as head coach of the Cats and his 13th year overall. He is 144-87 (.623) with Arizona and has taken UA to six NCAA Tournament appearances in the last seven years. Rubio has led the Cats to three consecutive and four total 20-win seasons. He's coached 10 All-Pac-10 and eight academic all-conference athletes. He ranks fifth all-time among Pac-10 coaches in winning percentage. Rubio is 264-152 (.635) overall. Arizona's win over Oregon State (9/16) was the 250th of his career. The Cats' match with Stanford (10/15) marked the 400th contest of his head coaching career. Their opening contest of the season, a victory over UTEP (9/1) was the 200th of Rubio's Arizona career.
CATS' STAFF: Head coach David Rubio is assisted by Charita Johnson (Arizona '94) and Chris Lamb (Sonoma State '98). Johnson is in her fourth season as a Wildcat assistant, while Lamb is in his second. Volunteer assistant Kevin Jones is in his first season with the UA staff.
ALL-DISTRICT 8 TEAM: Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee and sophomore setter Dana Burkholder were both named to the 12-player All-District 8 team. They are the first Wildcats since current Arizona assistant coach Charita Johnson in 1994 to do so.
ALL-PAC-10 TEAM: Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee and sophomore setter Dana Burkholder also earned spots on the 1999 All-Pac-10 volleyball team. The Cats join Stanford and UCLA as the only schools with multiple representatives on the 12-player squad.
The honor is DaLee's second in a row, joining Terry Lauchner (1988-89) and Barb Bell (1993, '95-'96) as the only UA players to be named All-Pac-10 more than once. Next season, DaLee will have the chance to become the first Wildcat ever to earn three consecutive All-Pac-10honors. Arizona players have earned 10 all-conference honors under head coach David Rubio and 13 overall. This marks the third straight season in which the Cats have had two players named to the all-conference squad.
Outside hitter Lisa Rutledge earned first-team All-Pac-10 Freshman honors as well as honorable mention All-Pac-10 accolades. Middle blocker Stefani Saragosa was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 Freshman.
CLOSE CALLS: Arizona missed out on upset victories over three nationally-regarded opponents by the narrowest of margins. On Oct. 22, the Cats had three match points against eventual Pac-10 co-champion and sixth-ranked UCLA before losing in five games. In its next contest four days later, Arizona led No. 11 BYU, two games to one, before falling in five. Then in their opening contest of the Starwoods Plaza Hotel Thanksgiving Invitational Nov. 26, the Cats easily won the first game, 15-4, and led game three 9-4 and 13-10 before losing the game and the match in four.
In addition, in the Pacific Region semifinals, Arizona jumped to a 10-0 lead at Stanford and held a 12-1 advantage when outside hitter Lisa Rutledge suffered a sprained right ankle. The Cats held on to win game one, but could not recover from the setback and lost in four.
ROAD WARRIORS: Arizona went 7-2 in Pac-10 road matches, winning its last six contests away from Tucson. The mark is the best ever by a Wildcat team in road league play. In each of the last two seasons, UA has gone 6-3 on the road in Pac-10 action. Prior to 1997, the Cats had never posted a winning league record away from McKale. Overall, Arizona was 9-4 on the road, losing only to top-10 opponents Stanford (twice), UCLA and Nebraska.
SEBBAS SHINES: Subbing for the injured Stefani Saragosa, sophomore middle blocker Erin Sebbas stepped in as if she'd been starting all year. Sebbas, who had just five kills and six blocks in her one-and-a-half year career prior to the Cats' contest vs. Cal (11/12), posted a double-double against the Bears. She hit .381 (10-2-21) and recorded a match-best 10 blocks. She again performed admirably the next night against Stanford, when she led all Cats with five blocks.
DaLEE TIES MARK: Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee tied the Arizona single-match record for hitting percentage (.750) in the Cats' final regular-season contest vs. Texas-El Paso. DaLee recorded kills in her first nine attempts on her way to a 13-kill, one-error, 16-attempt performance. She did so despite working with three different setters, as head coach David Rubio rotated Dana Burkholder, Lauren Benward and Melayne Wootan into that position.
DaLee, who already held Arizona's single-season (.386 in 1998) and career (.379) records for hitting percentage, has recorded four fo the top seven single-match hitting percentages in school history and seven of the 16 best. She joined Beth Grupenhoff (vs. BYU, 9/15/82), Tamika Dennis (at San Diego State, 9/10/94) and Michelle Fanger (vs. San Francisco, 9/12/97) as the only UA players to have hit .750 in a match.
PAC-10 HONORS: Two Wildcats earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors this season.
Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee was named the first 1999 Pac-10 Player of the Week after leading the Cats to a 4-1 mark and a sweep of No. 18 San Diego the week of Sept. 6. It was the second such honor for DaLee, who also won it last Nov. 2.
DaLee hit .345 while averaging 4.18 kills and 1.29 blocks per game through the Cats' first five matches of the season. The 6-foot-3 Phoenix native put up those numbers without the assistance of the Cats' regular setter, Dana Burkholder, who missed the week's action while competing for the U.S. Junior National Team at the 10th World Championships in Canada. Sophomore setter Burkholder earned the Nov. 18 honor after leading the Cats to a road sweep of the Washington schools. Burkholder posted 74 assists and a career-high seven blocks in the Cats' five-game win at Washington (11/5). The assist total was the fifth-best in Arizona history. For the week, Burkholder averaged 14.0 assists per game and totaled 18 digs and 10 blocks. It was the first such honor of her career and the 11th ever by a Wildcat.
JUNIOR NATIONALS: Sophomore Dana Burkholder and freshman Lisa Rutledge missed the last week of preseason practice and the first week (five matches) of the regular season representing the United States at the 10th Junior World Championship Games in Saskatoon and Edmonton, Canada, Aug. 28-Sept. 5. Burkholder, the club's starting setter, had competed for the U.S. team in 1998 as well. UA joined Stanford as the only schools with two players on the team, which qualified for the quarterfinals before being eliminated.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE: Sophomore setter Dana Burkholder posted her first career triple-double in the Cats' five-game loss to UCLA (10/22). The Bakersfield, Calif., native recorded a career-high 11 kills to go along with 70 assists (a then-season-best mark) and 14 digs. Her triple-double was the 18th in Arizona history and the fourth by a Wildcat setter. The last UA setter to accomplish the feat was Mary Linton vs. Stanford on Nov. 12, 1989. Earlier this year vs. Santa Clara (9/3), junior Marisa DaLee came within one dig of her first career triple-double.
WASHINGTON SWEEP: Arizona posted several noteworthy numbers in its three-game sweep of Washington (10/7) in Tucson. Among them were: *The Cats' .427 hitting percentage for the match was their fifth-best ever and their second-best in a Pac-10 contest. *Their .842 hitting percentage (16-0-19) in game two was the Cats' best-ever in a single game, besting the .700 they hit against Texas Tech (in Albuquerque) on Nov. 27, 1993, in game one. *Junior middle blocker Marisa DaLee's .667 hitting percentage for the match tied for the fifth- (now seventh-) best by an Arizona player. *The Cats came within one point in game two of its first-ever 15-0 win in a Pac-10 game. It was their fifth 15-1 victory in league play. Arizona has had four 15-0 wins out of league.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Raelene Elam posted a season-high 17 kills in the Cats' first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Virginia (12/2) ... Erin Sebbas earned honorable mention Academic All-Pac-10 honors ... Marisa DaLee was the only Wildcat to have played in every game this season. She has played in 223 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in Arizona history ... Jill Talbot hit a career-best .600 (10-1-15) at Washington State (11/6) ... Dana Burkholder set a career-high with seven blocks at Washington (11/5) and posted the fifth-best single-match assist total (74) in Arizona history ... Lisa Rutledge's 24 kills in the Washington match were the most by a Wildcat since Keisha Johnson's 25 at Oregon State (11/16/97) ... Marisa DaLee (11) and Raelene Elam (5) both matched their career-highs in blocks at Arizona State (10/30) ... DaLee set a career-high with 21 kills vs. UCLA (10/22) ... In the same match, Elam recorded her career-best in digs with 22 ... Elam posted her career-high hitting percentage mark (.556) vs. Oregon (9/17) ... DaLee passed the 1,000-attempt plateau for her career at Nebraska (9/11), qualifying her for Arizona's hitting percentage leaders list. Her career mark of .379 easily bests former teammate Erin Aldrich's (1996-97) previous standard of .300 ... DaLee's 11 block assists vs. Santa Clara (9/3) tied her for third on the Cats' single-match list ... Shannon Torregrosa became the first Arizona freshman ever to post a double-double in her collegiate debut at UTEP (9/1) ... She is also only the fifth UA freshman ever to start her first match under David Rubio (Heidi Bomberger '93; Allison Napier '97; Burkholder '98; Leslie DuBois '98) ... Burkholder ranks second among active Pac-10 players in career assists with 2,506. DaLee is eighth in blocks (283) and ninth in kills (841), and Elam ranks eighth in digs (717) ... Freshman outside hitter Christina Frost red-shirted the 1999 season.