August 23, 2006 - They both stood side by side, bent at the waist with their hands on their knees and eyes fixed on the furious action taking place on the McKale Center court just a few feet in front of them.

Occasionally, Audrey Bockerstette and Kara Bauman trade words and even share a few laughs. They appear to be the closest of teammates, and no one would ever suspect that just 18 months ago, they were sworn enemies.

This fall, the two have traded bad blood for the camaraderie of teamwork on the University of Arizona women's volleyball squad, which kicked off its season Aug. 19 with its annual Red-Blue Match.

There was a time when the women were the princesses of volleyball in Oro Valley - Bockerstette, 19, for Canyon Del Oro High School and Bauman, 18, for rival Ironwood Ridge High School.

But despite epic battles in front of ravenous fans during high school, Bockerstette, a UA sophomore, and Bauman, a freshman, insist there's no ill will between them. In fact, they are happy to see each other.

"I was excited to see another person from Tucson," said Bockerstette of the addition of Bauman to the Wildcats' 18-woman roster this season. "We all get along."

For Bauman, a familiar face is a welcome sight.

"I'm going through the same things she went through last year," said the freshman about Bockerstette. "It's really nice to see how much she's progressed and grown as a player and individual. It's kind of encouraging to have somebody here to lift you up when you're feeling down."

Bauman has been with the program for two months juggling summer school classes and volleyball practice. Before enrolling at the UA, she basically wrote the record books at Ironwood Ridge where she exited as the Class 4A school's all-time leader in aces (160), blocks (153), hitting percentage (.290), kills (719) and points scored (984.5).

For the Wildcats, Bauman's role will be drastically different. For one, the middle blocker will not be playing the back line anymore.

"It's different in every single aspect," said the 6-foot, 1-inch Bauman. "In high school I was a big fish in a little pond. Now I'm a little fish in a big pond. It's so different but I love it; it's like a family."

A young family at that.

Last season, UA finished 25-6 before Santa Clara University ousted them in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. This year, the Wildcats will have a new look and their work cut out for them.

"It's going to be a fun year but it's not going to be without its trials and tribulations," said UA head coach Dave Rubio. "It's just going to be a work in progress. The young talent that we have is really good, it's just going to take time to evolve into a high level of play."

Bockerstette and Bauman will see limited action this year but the opportunity for each to play exists due to the Wildcats' undergrad-laden roster. Both player and coach, however, shudder at the prospect of being labeled a young team, despite a lineup with just three seniors and 11 freshmen and sophomores.

"We don't like to think of ourselves as a young team because you don't want to use any excuses, but everyone is working hard no matter how old they are," said Bockerstette in the moments after her Red Team knocked of the Blue Team (the starters) on Aug. 19.

Bockerstette - who left CDO as the school's all-time leader in service aces (157), digs in a match (20), digs in a season (297) and career digs (633) - is also joined this year by Whitney Dosty, a Salpointe Catholic grad and UA freshman. The three Tucson metro area players were members of Club Cactus, one of Southern Arizona's premier volleyball clubs. Despite sharing Club Cactus status, Bauman never got to play on the same club with Bockerstette and Dosty, who played for the club's older squad.

It's not uncommon for the UA to boast Northwest players. Last year, Bre Ladd concluded a stellar Wildcat career, but not before setting the program's single game mark for hitting percentage (.765). In four years, Ladd was the most durable Wildcat ever to come through Rubio's system. Ladd is the UA's career leader in matches played (125), matches started (123), games played (447) as well as consecutive game played (447).

With Ladd having moved on, the new era of local players has begun at the UA. Now when it comes to rivalries, the only one that exists for Bockerstette and Bauman is the biggest one in the state - a common enemy in Wildcat country known as Arizona State University.

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