THE SEASON: No. 20 Arizona (22-7, 12-6) made its fifth NCAA appearance in six years and its third in a row. The Cats also recorded their third straight 20-win season for the first time since 1980-82. Their 22 wins were the most since 1982, and their fourth-place Pac-10 finish was their best ever. Middle blockers Keisha Johnson Demps and Marisa DaLee earned All-Pac-10 honors.
WILDCAT NOTES: Arizona's 22 wins were its most since 1982 ... The Cats' fourth-place Pac-10 finish was their best ever. UA tied for fourth in 1993 and '97, and their 12-6 record matched last season's for the best in school history ... The Cats' 6-3 road record in league play tied their best-ever mark, set last season ... Arizona's 7-2 league mark at the halfway point of the Pac-10 schedule was its best ever ... Arizona had four players with 300 kills for the first time in school history ... UA's .231 hitting percentage broke the school record of .230 set last season. UA also set school marks for kills per game (16.41) and assists per game (14.39) ... For the second year in a row and the third time in four years, Arizona led the Pac-10 in aces per game (1.66) ... The Cats also ranked fourth in the league in hitting percentage and kills per game ... Arizona ranked 22nd nationally in attendance, averaging 992 fans a match ... The 2,963 fans in attendance at the Stanford match (9/25) made up the fourth-largest crowd in Arizona history and the biggest Pac-10 crowd of the year ... Arizona's four-game win at Washington (9/20) set a school record for consecutive victories at 10 ... Arizona won 24 straight regular-season matches vs. unranked opponents before losing to Oregon (10/30) ... UA won a school-record 10 consecutive road contests until falling to Stanford (10/25) ... Arizona went 17-0 this season when winning the first game and 20-1 when out-hitting its opponent.
NCAA NOTES: Arizona played seven teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament this year (including the tournament), posting a 4-6 mark against them ... This was the Cats' 14th NCAA appearance. Only Stanford (18), UCLA (17) and USC (16) have more in the Pac-10 and only 10 teams nationally have participated in more NCAAs than Arizona ... The Cats are 10-14 overall in the NCAA Tournament, 6-5 under David Rubio ... UA has never advanced past the regional semifinals ... Arizona's entire roster had compiled just six matches of NCAA Tournament experience heading into 1998.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Dana Burkholder set Arizona freshman records for matches played (29), matches started (29), assists (1,346) and digs (309). She played in every point of every game ... Marisa DaLee's .386 hitting percentage broke Melissa McLinden's Arizona single-season record by 46 points. She became the first Wildcat to lead the Pac-10 in hitting percentage ... Marisa DaLee's .733 hitting percentage vs. OSU (11/1) set an Arizona record for a Pac-10 match ... Dana Burkholder's 77 assists vs. WSU (11/22) were one shy of the school record ... Raelene Elam led the league in total aces and was second in the Pac-10 in service aces per game. She finished second on Arizona's single-season list with 57. Elam is the second Wildcat in a row to pace the conference in aces as Carolyn Penfield led the league last season with 42.
CONFERENCE HONORS: Arizona's starting middle blockers, sophomore Marisa DaLee and senior Keisha Johnson Demps, were named to the 12-person All-Pac-10 volleyball team. They became the 10th and 11th Wildcats so honored. Setter Dana Burkholder became the seventh Cat to earn a spot on the All-Pac-10 Freshman team. She also was named honorable mention all-conference. Outside hitter Jill Talbot earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 Freshman accolades.
This is the third time a pair of Wildcats earned All-Pac-10 honors. In 1989, Terry Lauchner and Mary Linton did so, and last season, Erin Aldrich and Carolyn Penfield were named to the squad.
HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO: David Rubio (Cal State Northridge '82) completed his seventh season as head coach of the Cats and his 12th year overall. He is 123-76 (.618) with Arizona and has led UA to five NCAA Tournament appearances in the last six years. Rubio is 243-141 (.633) overall. The 39-year-old Rubio coached at Cal State Bakersfield for five seasons (1987-91), leading the Roadrunners to the 1989 Division II National Championship and a pair of California Collegiate Athletic Conference titles. He was named Division II Coach of the Year in 1989 as well. At Arizona, Rubio has led the Cats to three consecutive and four total 20-win seasons. He's coached eight All-Pac-10 performers and eight academic all-conference athletes.
CATS' STAFF: Head coach David Rubio is assisted by Charita Johnson (Arizona '94) and Chris Lamb (Sonoma State '98). Johnson is in her third season as a Wildcat assistant, while Lamb is in his first year. Volunteer assistant Ryan Call is also in his first season with the UA staff.
DEMPS' 20/20: Senior middle blocker Keisha Johnson Demps recorded the 16th 20/20 (kills and digs) performance in Arizona history in the Cats' five-game win over Arizona State (11/13). She posted 21 kills and 20 digs, both career-high marks. The first 20/20 of Demps' career was the Cats' first since Barb Bell registered 20 kills and 22 digs at UCLA on Nov. 3, 1996.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE: Outside hitter Jill Talbot became the first Wildcat in four years, and the first UA freshman ever, to record a triple-double in the Cats' five-game win over Arizona State (10/16). She had 14 kills, 10 assists and 18 digs. Talbot's was the 16th triple-double in Arizona history and the fifth involving kills, assists and digs. Senior middle blocker Keisha Johnson Demps posted her first triple-double two weeks later against Oregon (10/30). She recorded 13 kills, 15 digs and 12 blocks in a five-game loss.
Current Arizona assistant coach Charita Johnson had been the last Wildcat to knotch a triple-double having done so in an NCAA Touranment match at BYU (12/3/94). Johnson registered a school-record four triple-doubles in her career.
FRESHMAN ON FIRE: Setter Dana Burkholder established Arizona records for matches started, assists, assists per game, digs and digs per game by a freshman. She led the Cats with 1,346 assists and 309 digs. Burkholder led the Cats in assists in all 29 matches and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in assists, averaging 12.46 per game, the second-best mark in Wildcat history.
Burkholder earned All-Pac Freshman honors as well as honorable mention All-Pac-10 accolaides.
DaLEE'S RECORD CAMPAIGN: Sophomore middle blocker Marisa DaLee hit .386 for the season, leading the Pac-10 and breaking Melissa McLinden's 1985 Arizona single-season record of .340. She became the first Wildcat ever to lead the Pac-10 in hitting percentage.
Her .376 career hitting percentage would shatter Erin Aldrich's UA record of .300 if DaLee had enough attempts (1,000) to qualify. She has 813 career attempts and should reach the 1,000 mark sometime early next season. DaLee was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week following her performance Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 against Oregon and Oregon State. She hit .650 and averaged a block a game for the week, including posting a .733 mark against OSU that set a school record for hitting percentage in a Pac-10 match. DaLee has posted two of the top 10 single-match hitting percentages in UA history this season.