Wildcats fall to No. 2 Cornhuskers

The Arizona Volleyball team fell to the No. 2 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers this afternoon in the Wildcat Classic at McKale Center. The Wildcats won the first game of the match 30-23, but the Cornhuskers tightened up their defense and won the next two games 30-19 and 30-15, respectively.

The fourth game was close throughout, but the Cornhuskers held on to earn a 32-30 victory and close out the match 3-1.

"In the first game we defended and had good passing," Head coach Dave Rubio said. "In the second game we served out of bounds and got aced twice. We passed poorly in games two and three and couldn't serve. We're just not in a good rhythm or at a great comfort level."

In the fourth and deciding game of the match, the Cornhuskers showed why it is the nation's No. 2 rated team. After falling behind 3-0, they never lost their poise. When the Wildcats threatened, Nebraska still kept things under control and never appeared shaken. Nebraska used a balanced scoring attack to gain the victory as four players combined for 33 of the Cornhuskers 43 kills the final game. Even when Lisa Rutledge put the Wildcats in front 30-29, Nebraska had the poise to withstand the Arizona rally.

A loss is still a loss, but it should help the Wildcats improve before entering the very competitive Pac-10 Conference race that's less than a month away.

"We could have folded (in the final game)," Rubio said. "But we didn't, so I'm very proud of the way we came out and battled in the fourth game.

The experience of the Cornhuskers was an obvious advantage in this match. The Wildcats are still struggling to find some continuity and team chemistry, but playing a tough schedule makes the players and their coach keenly aware of what they need to do get better.

"We need to work on our serving," Senior outside hitter Lisa Rutledge said. "We're battling with inconsistency and trying to find a way to stay steady. But we have some talent on this team and by playing (a team like Nebraska) it shows us what we need to work on."

Some might say the early season schedule is a little too difficult when trying to mold so many new elements into a young team, but Rubio disagrees.

"I took a page out of (UA Basketball coach) Lute Olson's book when it comes to scheduling," Rubio said. "If you want to compete with the best, you have to play the best. That's the only way to learn what it takes to get there."

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