It’s been 11 days since Arizona upset then-No.1 USC, but the effects of that win continue to linger — for the good, and for the bad.
The good came on Tuesday, when head coach Dave Rubio and the team received an email.
It told them the UA was one of 30 teams on the initial watch list to host NCAA tournament matches.
Arizona would have to make the tournament for that to happen, which isn’t guaranteed, but the USC win certainly helped the cause.
“I don’t like getting too far ahead of ourselves, but they’re looking at us,” Rubio said, “We put ourselves in position to be considered. We have to finish now. We’re 15-7, how many wins do you need to be a slam dunk? I don’t have that number, you just take it one match at a time.”
Ronni Lewis, a junior libero, thinks it adds a little more pressure. Which is a good thing.
“There’s a committee out there looking at us, watching us, all eyes on us and giving us the consideration of hosting,” she said. “It’s awesome. It puts a little more pressure on us but that can be good; we need pressure.”
Especially after last weekend, when the Wildcats lost at Colorado 3-0 on Friday, and at Utah 3-1 on Sunday.
As a result, Arizona dropped out of the Top 25 AVCA coaches poll, and their RPI dropped from 17 to 24.
“I felt like, on Friday, we just never really let go of the weekend before, and that kind of caught up with us,” Rubio said. “It was tough to move on from the USC game and I think that was reflected in how poorly we played in Colorado. Nobody really played well in that game.”
Arizona travels to Oregon this weekend, and will take on the Ducks Saturday at 7 p.m., and the Oregon State Beavers at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Home is where the heart is.
Or, for Arizona, McKale Center is where the wins are.
The Wildcats have been dominant at home, winning 12 of 13 matches. For as good as they’ve been in the friendly confines at 1 National Championship Drive, they’ve been equally as bad on the road — one win in seven contests.
“I don’t think we’ve played particularly well on the road so far,” Rubio said.
The UA is one of only six teams ranked in the top-50 in RPI with a road losing record. It’s the only one with just one road win to its name.
Still, road woes are littering the entire Pac-12 — collectively, conference teams have a 48-48 road record. Take away No. 3 Washington, No. 4 USC and No. 6 Stanford, and that drops to 29-42.
Blame it on Pac-12 parity.
“You’re always playing against a really good opponent on the other side of the net, either home or away,” Rubio said. “But the home team tends to play better, so if you’re going to beat a team in our conference on the road, then you’re going to have to really dial it in. So far we really haven’t played well enough to beat the majority of the teams that we faced.”
Arizona has already had some success against the Oregon schools, though. Back in early October, the Wildcats beat both Oregon and Oregon State 3-1, albeit at McKale Center.
“That gives us some confidence,” Lewis said. “We swept them when they played us here but after our losses we have and that good news we just got, we have a lot of motivation. We’re ready to go and play hard for each other.”
Oregon State, Arizona’s opponent Sunday afternoon in Corvallis, is 0-10 in conference play. But don’t expect Rubio to look past the Beavers. “They went five (sets) with Cal, at Cal, last Sunday. With a team like that, the thing I found is that they’re going to push, going to want to beat you. When you play on a Sunday afternoon, the best team doesn’t always win. It’s the team that’s most prepared that wins.”