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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Setting herself up for success

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Chloe Mathis, an undecided freshman, gets help form associate head coach Steve Walker as she practices for new position as setter on the Wildcats volleyball team on Tuesday, Sept 20 in McKale Center. Mathis currently has a sprained right ankle, in addition to a condition that has slowed the tendon growth in her left knee.

Prior to last weekend, Arizona volleyball’s selfless setter Chloe Mathis had been struggling with the transition from a club all-star to a collegiate-level freshman.

“Without question, the hardest transition hasn’t been from high school to club, but from club to college,” said associate head coach and setting coach Steve Walker. “The most difficult position has always been, and always will be, setting.

“It’s a lot to take in. We like to say, ‘It’s like drinking water through a fire hose.’”

Although she’s progressing, head coach Dave Rubio said Mathis hadn’t been playing to her full potential.

“She’s got it in her,” Rubio said. “I told her, ‘Chloe, I’ve seen you play at a really high level for two years now, and I haven’t seen the player I recruited yet.

“She played her best match on Saturday,” he added. “It was the kid I saw in the past.”

Mathis was named Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday, just two days after the freshman setter led the Wildcats to their first conference win against Oregon State. It was her first time setting a 5-1 offense for an entire match.

Mathis contributed 57 assists against Oregon State, the most in a four-set match for any Pac-12 player this season. But despite Mathis’ award, her personal focus is to make her teammates shine, not herself.

“I think the best thing about (setting) is getting to make my hitters look good,” Mathis said. “Knowing that I can stand in the background and let them get all the glory, is totally fine with me, because they work just as hard. That feeling you get after — it’s the best and probably what I love the most.”

Rubio’s voodoo magic

Before her best performance as a Wildcat, Rubio sat down with Mathis to get her mentally prepared.

“It’s so much more of a psychological process than it is a physical and a technical process,” Rubio said about setting. “Before the match, I sat down with Chloe for about an hour and we just had a little voodoo session with her. Whether or not you would attribute that to her playing better on Saturday, I don’t know.”

Mathis wasn’t expecting to be the setter in the 5-1 on Saturday, or even start this early in the season, she said.

“(The meeting) is probably something that helped me the most,” Mathis said. “(Rubio) said to be prepared in case they switched to a 5-1. And five minutes before the game he said we were going to the 5-1. I just got butterflies in my stomach, it was the moment I’ve been waiting for.”

Mathis can also attest to Rubio’s voodoo powers.

“A voodoo meeting?” Mathis said laughing. “You know, he did have one with me. He’s a great guy and he’s probably the biggest reason why I came here. Most coaches will say anything, but Dave is a guy that once he says something, he really stands behind it.”

A homebody, jokester

Mathis started her volleyball career in the sixth grade, but with a coach that didn’t originally see her as a setter.

“My coach wanted to make me an outside hitter, but I asked him what position stays on the court at all times and never comes off,” Mathis said. “He said a setter does, and I said ‘That’s what I want to be.’”

The La Jolla, Calif., native enjoys her new life as a student-athlete, but misses one of her favorite pastimes.

“It’s a huge blessing to be a student athlete,” Mathis said. “I’m definitely a homebody, and I think being a student athlete makes me want to sleep more; that’s horrible, but I miss sleeping so much.”
In addition to volleyball and sleeping, her other favorite pastimes include watching TV and eating, she said.

“I love ‘Glee’ and ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Bones’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’” Mathis said.

And often the comedian, Mathis avoids the truth behind why she wears a white kneepad on one knee and a black on the other. The truth is, her black kneepad is specifically designed for the knee condition known as Osgood-Schlatter disease, which caused the tendons in her leg to stop growing.

Despite experiencing constant pain, she’s able to make light of the chronic condition.

“I like to rock one black and one white kneepad, because culturally it reflects my background, because my mom is white and my dad is black,” Mathis said.

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