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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Junior Laura Larson leads Wildcats on and off the volleyball court

Rebecca Noble

Arizona volleyball player Laura Larson dives for the ball in a game against BYU on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014.

Volleyball season is underway for the No. 16 Wildcats as last weekend, they kicked off the 2015 season with a three-game winning streak in Dallas against SMU, Texas State and Abilene Christian.

While there might have been skepticism from volleyball head coach Dave Rubio due to an influx of new faces, returning starters such as Laura Larson, who recorded 18 digs from her new position as libero, are more than willing to take on bigger leadership roles this season.

“One of the big things for us was in our first game. We were losing to SMU and it was 23-18 at one point, and I tried to tell the team to step up and say, ‘Hey guys, we need to fight right now,’ and people did step up,” Larson said. “We made a couple of big blocks and digs, and I really think that turned the game around for us.”

Larson is quickly becoming one of the leaders of a resilient bunch that thrived in the face of adversity in Dallas and gave a preview of what was in store for them this year.

“It looked like we were about to lose that game, and momentum was totally with SMU,” Larson said. “Everyone took it onto themselves and said, ‘Hey, we got to win this game right now,’ and people stepped up. It was not just at that point of the game, but throughout all three matches. … We showed what we could do even when we were losing.”

Last season, Larson played in all 34 games while finishing fifth on the team in digs with 223 and accounting for 14 assists as the Wildcats went 24-10, good enough for third place in the Pac-12 Conference. They would go on to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In March, Larson was named a member of the 12-player USA Volleyball team and got to compete in the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. There, Larson and the USA women’s volleyball team placed ninth out of 16 teams.

The libero from Lakeville, Minn., is also a stud in the classroom, as she maintained a 4.0 last season while studying molecular and cellular biology, which placed her on the Pac-12 all-academic first team and Capital One Academic all-district second team.

Somehow, Larson manages to balance both a rigorous academic schedule and her vital role on the team.

The Wildcats’ home opener is this Friday at 6 p.m. against South Dakota, and Larson is pumped to play in front of the home crowd again.

“I can’t wait. We have been talking about it this past weekend, and I can’t wait to get back in front of everyone. The band, the fans, the atmosphere is so great,” Larson said. “It’s always great to come back. Let’s put on a show for our fans and keep it up.”

Larson and the rest of the women’s volleyball team make their home debut when they take on South Dakota, FAMU and Cal State Northridge this weekend in McKale Center as they aim for the NCAA Championship in Omaha, Neb.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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