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Aug. 31, 2000

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia volleyball team opens its 2000 season by hosting three teams in the Jefferson Cup Tournament at University Hall Friday and Saturday, September 1-2. The Cavaliers, under the direction of sixth-year head coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton, are looking to earn their third consecutive bid to the NCAA Championship.

With the loss of four starters, the Cavaliers lack experience, but the one commodity they do have is talent. Seven players return in 2000 along with a five-member first-year recruiting class that was ranked as the sixth-best 2000 recruiting class by Volleyball Magazine. It is easy to see why Shelton feels the 2000 team can duplicate the success of the past two seasons, despite losing four starters over the same span.

“The key to success for our young team is our leadership. Everything depends on how well we are able to blend our veterans and rookies into one cohesive unit and how much our experienced players are able to step up their games. If we are able to do these two things, we will have a tremendous year,” said Shelton.

The Cavaliers open the 2000 season by hosting Georgetown, Kentucky and William & Mary in the Jefferson Cup Tournament at University Hall, September 1-2. The tournament begins at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, September 1 with Georgetown playing Kentucky. At 11:30 a.m., Virginia plays its season-opener by hosting William & Mary. At 5:00 p.m., William & Mary squares off with Kentucky, followed by a match between UVa and Georgetown at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, September 2, Georgetown plays William & Mary at 9:00 a.m., followed by Virginia and Kentucky in the final match of the tournament at 11:30 a.m.

Virginia concluded the 1999 season with a 19-12 overall record and a 9-7 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The `Hoos finished fourth in the ACC standings and earned their third consecutive NCAA Championship bid, but lost to Arizona in the first round in Austin, Texas.

Three of Virginia’s key returnees and most experienced players are fourth-year middle Deanna Zwarich (Overland Park, Kan./Shawnee Mission North), fourth-year outside hitter Katie Jones (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood), and fourth-year setter Cathy Arnette (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch). The three players will serve as captains for UVa this season and will be looked to for leadership on and off the court.

Zwarich, who is a candidate for ACC Player of the Year, had a tremendous junior season in 1999 and was chosen as Virginia’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. She was second on the team with career highs in kills (414) and blocks (114) and finished fourth on the squad with a career-best 276 digs. Zwarich was ninth in the ACC in kills per game with an average of 3.77 and that average improved to 4.1 per game in ACC play. She needs just 47 more kills to become the sixth Cavalier player to reach the 1,000-kill milestone. With 100 or more blocks in each of her first three seasons at Virginia, Zwarich has the opportunity to become the first UVa player to register at least 100 blocks in four straight seasons. She entered the 1999 season with 147 career digs and nearly doubled that total with 276 last year. Zwarich notched a pair of triple-doubles, including one in the ACC Tournament, which led to her becoming the fourth Virginia player named to the ACC All-Tournament team. In the quarterfinals against Duke on November 19, Zwarich tallied 12 digs, 11 kills and 10 blocks for her second career triple-double. Her first triple double came against James Madison on November 12 with 16 kills, 12 digs and 10 blocks.

Jones is the lone returning starter at outside hitter. She is the most experienced outside hitter on the team and is a stabilizing force on the court. Jones is also an excellent defensive player and is one of the team’s top passers. In 1999, Jones was selected as UVa’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. She led the team in digs with 362 and was second among all ACC players with an average of 3.29 digs per game. With 956 career digs, Jones needs just 44 more to become UVa’s seventh player to reach the 1,000-dig plateau. Jones also tied for team-high honors with 37 service aces. She was fourth on the team with 276 kills, just four shy of her career high.

Arnette is the team’s most experienced setter and is competing with first-year Abby Whittenburg for the starting role. A transfer from Villanova prior to the 1999 season, Arnette has two years of experience running a Division I offense under her belt. She is Villanova’s all-time assist leader with 1,793 in the 1997 and 1998 seasons combined. In 1999, Arnette stepped into the role as defensive specialist. She posted 113 digs and added 19 assists during the course of the season. Arnette appeared in 81 games during 23 matches last season. Her season high for digs was 11 vs. Wake Forest on October 19.

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