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Women head to Arkansas for Elite Eight


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Published 2006-03-22T00:00:00Z”/>

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Zuri Berry

<a href=”http://orion.csuchico.edu/slideshows/wk8/wbbtues/”></a> Check out the <a href= “http://orion.csuchico.edu/slideshows/wk8/wbbtues/”>slideshow from Tuesday’s practice.</a>

March 21, 2006

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The Chico State women’s basketball team is looking to keep its cool while enjoying some of the benefits of reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II tournament.

The Wildcats are holed up in the Summit Arena & Convention Center hotel, which happens to be upstairs from the court they’ll be playing on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s nice,” assistant coach Alisha Valavanis said of the accommodations. “It’s really remarkable, the hotel and the walk.”

The team practiced for the first time Tuesday afternoon in Hot Springs, Ark. The Wildcats (27-3) are preparing for their Elite Eight game against South Regional champion Henderson State (29-4).

After their flight was delayed in Phoenix, the Wildcats made it to Hot Springs at 1 a.m. CST Tuesday. The team had to skip its scheduled community service event at 8:45 in the morning so the players could sleep.

The late arrival didn’t deter the players’ excitement about the trip and their upcoming game.

“It really didn’t hit us until we got here,” said sophomore point guard Amy Van Hollebeke. “But when we rolled into the hotel, it was the real deal. We’ve been waiting all week for this, and now we’re finally here.”

The players were given goodie bags filled with NCAA memorabilia, a centennial book and a basketball.

“It’s a great experience,” junior Jennifer Borror said. “It’s overwhelming and fun.”

Immediately after Chico State finished its practice, Henderson State came on the court for its only open practice. The Chico State players thought they were going to get a chance to watch their opponent but were instead asked to leave.

“They kicked us out,” Van Hollebeke said.

She later found out that the players aren’t allowed to watch their first opponent.

“They weren’t as tall as they looked on film,” she said, “But they’re still athletic.”

Chico State will face Henderson State at 4 p.m. PST on Wednesday to decide which team will qualify for the Final Four.

Zuri Berry can be reached at<a href= “mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a>

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