1995 was the year the Red Rocks won the last of its ten NCAA titles, but this year's squad could very well find its way to the top of the podium again in two weeks at Alabama.
"We're all so excited," said junior Tory Wilson. "It's what we've been working on all year, so this is kind of the big finish for us."
The Utes did not have a big finish at last year's nationals, failing to make the Super Six for the first time since 1999. That performance has motivated the Utes all season long.
"We've been talking about it since last year's nationals," said junior Georgia Dabritz. "We were so upset with that finish and we came in more motivated than ever this year. I think it has definitely showed in every meet."
The 5th-ranked Utes have been very consistent all season and appear to be peaking at the right time. The Red Rocks scored a season-high 198.025 on senior night against Georgia, then stormed to its first Pac-12 championship, and just came off a first place showing this past Saturday at the NCAA regionals at Arkansas.
"They're just coming into their own," said co-head coach Megan Marsden. "From senior night to Pac-12's to the regionals, I feel like they are really starting to build some confidence in their capabilities of hanging with anyone."
Outside of the season-ending injury to Kassandra Lopez, unlike last year, the Utes are relatively healthy. Plus, with four seniors and four juniors in the rotation, this team will not be intimated by the big stage at Alabama.
"It helps that they're experienced," said Marsden. "I think that's part of the equation of this team doing as well as they have. They're filled with talent, but they're beginning to believe their talent now."
"Looking at my team, if we do what we're capable of, I think we can really challenge the top teams," said senior Nansy Damianova. "It's just a matter of who is going to be the best that night."
"This team is so talented," said Dabritz. "I have full faith in this team that we can go out there and show everybody how great we are."
The Utes will compete in the evening session April 18th with Alabama, Florida, UCLA, Nebraska and Penn State. The afternoon session includes Georgia, Stanford, LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan and Illinois.
The top three teams from each session move on to the Super Six on April 19th.
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