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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ex-V-ball stars still part of team

    Former Arizona volleyball players Jennifer Abernathy, left, and Bre Ladd cheer on the Wildcats during Arizonas four-set loss to then-No. 3 UCLA Friday in McKale Center. Both players, who used up their eligibility last season, help out the young UA squad by simulating top opponents in practice.
    Former Arizona volleyball players Jennifer Abernathy, left, and Bre Ladd cheer on the Wildcats during Arizona’s four-set loss to then-No. 3 UCLA Friday in McKale Center. Both players, who used up their eligibility last season, help out the young UA squad by simulating top opponents in practice.

    When some players graduate and leave the team they once called their own, they often go off into their new lives and look back only occasionally.

    That’s not the case for the Arizona volleyball team, as former All-American Jennifer Abernathy and All- Pacific 10 Conference honorable mention selection Bre Ladd are still very much a part of the team despite completing their eligibility last season.

    Ladd and Abernathy are familiar faces at the volleyball team’s practices, as they go anywhere from three to five times a week.

    “”Once you are a Cat, you are for life,”” Abernathy said. “”Even though I am not playing, I still like to be involved with the program.””

    Ladd agreed.

    “”You put a lot into the program and you want to stay involved,”” she said. “”When you are here, they can always use extra bodies to help out, and I am happy I can be a part of that.””

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said he appreciates Abernathy and Ladd’s effort of attending practice and being a productive extra set of eyes.

    “”I think it says something when former players are willing to come back and help out,”” Rubio said. “”It truly has been terrific for us and our young group having them here.””

    Not only are they staying involved, Rubio said they impact Arizona’s young roster in major ways.

    “”It is invaluable what they bring to the practice every single day,”” Rubio said. “”The players bring a high sense of maturity over the team as well as high-level execution.””

    As the Wildcats endure the brunt of their Pac-10 schedule, Rubio said Abernathy and Ladd are just as good as, if not better than, the best players in the conference.

    They serve as a scout team of sorts, simulating high-powered

    opponents in practice.

    “”It is really helpful having them in practice and playing to their full capability,”” said Brooke Buringrud, a sophomore outside hitter. “”It is definitely more realistic when they come out and play against us rather than a manager or a coach stepping in.””

    Abernathy, who plays professional volleyball in Puerto Rico, has many valuable lessons to teach the

    young players.

    “”Physically they are able to play at a very high level, which is what we need,”” Rubio said.

    “”They really assist the players, whether it’s helping them with different techniques or their shot selections. They are really helping the players when they aren’t getting feedback from the coaches.””

    As the Arizona record-holder for games and matches played, Ladd understands the toughness of playing in the Pac-10, and she said the power that is put on display in the conference matches can be extremely tough to deal with.

    “”The Pac-10 is so rough every single weekend,”” Ladd said. “”Most of their hitters are all starters. They don’t really have second-string type people, so for us to come in here and contribute to them helps them prepare for what they are going to see during the weekend.””

    Not only are the veterans guiding the young team, they are also keeping themselves in shape for future volleyball.

    “”I am graduating in May, and then we will see what happens from there,”” Ladd said. “”Being in here keeps you in shape, and any time you can touch a ball, it will help you prepare for your future.””

    Said Abernathy: “”Coming to practice really does help me out a lot. I am going through all the drills, and it is just preparing me more for competition.””

    Rubio said his former players are always welcome to help, and Abernathy and Ladd have done a great job.

    “”All of the players understand they are watching two of the best players who ever put on an Arizona uniform, so they respect them,”” Rubio said.

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