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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


One last ride for the seniors of the Arizona volleyball team

Megan Ewing

Emery Herman, 4, sets the ball during the Arizona vs. Stanford game on Sunday, Feb. 7, in McKale Center. After defeating the Cardinals on Friday, the Cats took them on again, winning 3 sets to 1.

It has been a very interesting season, to say the least. The pandemic has been the talk, but there has been so much more. 

The Arizona volleyball team started 0-4, then they swept the best team in the conference, Stanford. After that sweep, the team won almost every home match but lost every away match. Finally, the team won their first away matches against Cal to bring their record to 9-9. 

While they did secure a long-coveted road victory, Arizona head coach Dave Rubio felt it was not up to his standards.

“I was not particularly pleased with how we played,” Rubio said. “Statistically, we were not where we needed to be, [but] I was happy that we won. Here we are the last two weekends of the season, and we are still in the hunt to accomplish what we set out to do several months ago.”

It is everyone’s hope that the Wildcats can make a push for the playoffs because if not, then it will formally be the end of the careers of outside hitter Paige Whipple and setter Akia Warrior. Rubio was honest in that he has been more focused on the games against USC than he has on his seniors graduating.

“To be honest, I have not thought much about it,” Rubio said. “Losing a player of [Whipple’s] caliber and someone who has meant so much to the program over the last four years [is hard]. Appreciating someone like [Warrior] who sacrificed a lot to come here and was not particularly happy with her role as a backup setter but has done a fantastic job of not showing she is unhappy and being a great team player … now I am going to think about it.”

RELATED: Arizona volleyball team sends the Golden Bears into hibernation

Another thing to think about is whether Warrior and Whipple will come back. The NCAA is permitting seniors whose seasons were cut short to return. Whipple is still up in the air about her decision. 

“I’m trying not to think about it too much,” Whipple said. “I will get emotional, but it has been a cool time.”

Warrior, however, has determined what she is going to do for the upcoming season. 

“I have decided not to come back next year,” Warrior said. “I finish my master’s program in May. After that, I am going to figure out where I am going to live and where I am going to teach at.”

Whipple and Warrior are not finished just yet. USC is coming to McKale Center this week to try and spoil the plans of Arizona making the playoffs. Warrior knows to keep things simple.

“Stick to the scouting report and making adjustments that need to be made,” Warrior said. “Just being supportive of each other. USC is supposed to be a really hard team, so we have to be uplifting and supportive so our team can make the plays we need to win.”

Warrior, and maybe Whipple, will take the court one last time at McKale Center starting Friday, March 26 at 6 p.m. MST. 

Follow Sean Fagan on Twitter

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