AUSTIN, Texas -- The No. 19 University of Arizona volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (15-8, 15-6, 15-12) victory over Virginia in a first-round match of the 1999 NCAA National Championship Tournament at Gregory Gymnasium Thursday evening. The Wildcats hit .389 as a team, led by the efforts of Raelene Elam who recorded a match-high 17 kills and .536 hitting efficiency. Arizona (20-10) will face the winner of Thursday's other first-round contest Texas vs. Houston Friday at 7:00 p.m. to determine which school will advance to the Pacific Regional to be contested next weekend.
Marisa DaLee had 14 kills and a .478 hitting percentage, and Lisa Rutledge 16 kills and a .286 efficiency to lead the Arizona offensive attack. Jill Talbot keyed the defensive effort with a match-high 13 digs, while Dana Burkholder added 12 digs and 50 assists.
Virginia, which managed a .242 team hitting percentage, was led by Deanna Zwarich's 13 kills (.294). The Cavaliers finished the season with a 19-12 record. UVA setter Mary Frances Scott concluded her career 10th all time on the NCAA career assists list with 6,044 after handing out 34 on the evening.
Game one saw the Wildcats break a 5-5 tie by rolling off nine straight points en route to a 15-8 victory. Arizona, led by eight kills apiece from Rutledge (.538) and DaLee (.429), compiled a .358 team hitting percentage while holding Virginia to a .216 efficiency. Virginia grabbed a 5-4 lead on a Whitney Bilger kill before Stefani Saragos served the Wildcats to five consecutive points, two coming on DaLee kills, to give Arizona a sizeable 10-5 advantage. Raelene Elam served the 'Cats to four more points thanks to a kill and two blocks by DaLee to put the game away.
Arizona led from wire-to-wire in game two and registered a 15-6 triumph. The Wildcats scored 12 of the first 14 points thanks again to Rutledge who netted six kills in 12 swings, along with an almost perfect performance from Elam who put down six kills in eight attempts with no errors. Arizona posted an eye-popping .576 hitting percentage in the second frame. The Cavaliers, who hit .207 in the second set, got three kills apiece from Andrea Fischer and Jessica Parsons.
Virginia put forth its best effort in game three and appeared to be on its way to the win after consecutive blocks by Scott and Zwarich put the Cavaliers on top 12-10. Arizona sided out with a Elam kill, and a Virginia error, coupled with a Jill Talbot kill, knotted the score at 12-12. Saragosa then put two points on the board herself, scoring on a block and a kill to send the Wildcats to game point. The teams exchanged a pair of side outs before Elam slammed down her 17th kill of the night to secure the Arizona win.
Head Coach Dave Rubio: "We were really excited. We played well, especially during the first two games. But Virginia played pretty well in game one too. We're pleased that we were able to execute as well as we did. I felt watching the film on Virginia that they were capable of playing on a high level. (Lisa) Rutledge player very well for us, and we knew we would be able to give Virginia problems if they didn't pass well, and they didn't."
"We've been knocking on the door against the best teams in the country this season. We have the talent and are getting experience in tough matches. For us, it just seems like putting everything together and having everything happen at once."
Arizona Setter Dana Burkholder: "It was really disappointing when Erin (Aldrich) transferred because she's such a great player. But it'll be great to play against her if Texas advances. We're not focusing solely on her though."
Head Coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton: "I'm very proud of the way we played tonight. The NCAA Tournament was one of our goals this season, so I'm pleased we made it this far. We lost to a very good team in Arizona so there's nothing to be ashamed of."