Wildcats’ late rallies help beat Utes

On Saturday night, the U volleyball team learned the hard way that sometimes youth and talent can be trumped by experience and talent.

In two out of the three games they lost in the four-game match to Arizona, the Utes held sizable leads late, only to be on the wrong side of 30 points when all was said and done.

“Arizona stepped it up when (it) needed to,” U head coach Beth Launiere said. “We were in position to win in (game one) and were in position in game four, and they stepped it up.”

Stepping it up is nothing new to the senior-laden Wildcats, who experienced their fair share of adversity during the 2005 season. Coming from the Pacific-10, Arizona finished second in a conference that sent six teams to the NCAA tournament, including five seeded ones. After winning five-game matches throughout the regular season, some late game suspense Saturday didn’t rile the team.

“We have been in that situation so many times this year,” Arizona head coach David Rubio said. “We were down in game four, and I said, ‘We’ve been here before, and we’ve got to continue to be aggressive and we’ve got to play to win. I feel like with an older team, they can take what I say and then they can translate that onto the floor.'”

In game one, the Utes broke open a close game, taking a 20-15 lead. But the ‘Cats battled back, tying the game at 21, and eventually winning 30-28.

In game four, they overcame a later deficit. Clinging to a one-game lead in front of a Crimson Court crowd that was steadily growing in voracity, Arizona found itself trailing 26-23 and was only four Ute-points away from a deciding fifth game. But once again, the veteran team stepped up and rallied. The ‘Cats finished on a 7-1 run, winning 30-27 and punching their ticket to the Sweet 16.

“The most important thing at the end of the (fourth) game was that we were aggressive,” senior outside hitter Kim Glass said. “We weren’t going to play it safe, we were going for the gold and that’s it. No one wanted to go to five games. I sure didn’t want to.”

After they saw their season narrowly ended by the fourth-seeded Wildcats, the Utes lauded their own achievements, but also admitted that there was a reason for Arizona’s usually coming out on top in matches like Saturday’s.

“They are a little bit more experienced, and there is a reason (that) they won a bunch of five-game matches and were second in the Pac-10,” Launiere said. “They are a good volleyball team.”

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