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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Volleyball rebuilds with Dosty in lead

    UA freshman Whitney Dosty rises for a kill in practice yesterday in McKale Center. The outside hitter and No. 4 recruit in the nation is expected to make up for some of the lost production from departed All-American outside hitters Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy.
    UA freshman Whitney Dosty rises for a kill in practice yesterday in McKale Center. The outside hitter and No. 4 recruit in the nation is expected to make up for some of the lost production from departed All-American outside hitters Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy.

    Falling just one point short of what would be the team’s second Final Four in the program’s history last year, the No. 18 Arizona volleyball team is all about looking forward.

    But that won’t be easy.

    After finishing 25-6 overall and 14-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference, the squad’s best conference record since 2001, the Wildcats lost three-time All-American Kim Glass and third-team All-American Jennifer Abernathy, both outside hitters, and most of their offensive production from a year ago with them.

    The team understands that losing this impact duo as well as middle blocker Bre Ladd is a big blow, but it is counting on some younger players to fill the big holes.

    “”The freshmen are definitely going to play a big role in what we do,”” UA head coach Dave Rubio said. “”There is no question that we need them. We need them to step in and do well.””

    The Wildcats were picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll after finishing tied for second last season, even with outside hitter Whitney Dosty, the fourth-ranked recruit in the nation, according to PrepVolleyball.com, as a main part of the fourth-best overall recruiting class.

    Although Dosty was selected by the Arizona Republic as a first team All-State player in high school, along with being named the Southern Player of the Year by both the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Citizen, she knows that she has the big shoes of Glass to fill.

    “”I hope to play a big part in the success of this team,”” Dosty said. “”Right now I think it’s hard for me to step in and be a leader on this team, but I am definitely working at it.””

    As if losing last year’s senior class isn’t bad enough, the Wildcats also had to adjust to the addition of two new coaches.

    Chris Gonzalez and Dana Burkholder were brought in to the program, and each brings a different perspective. Gonzalez left an assistant coaching job at Vole’ro Zurich Volleyball Club in Switzerland where he coached U.S. Olympians, while Burkholder is coming back to the team she once played for after as a two-time All-American setter.

    “”I have won championships in the past, and I am here to win more,”” Gonzalez said.

    “”The players are seemingly enjoying the value they both bring,”” said junior setter Amy Dyck. “”Having two new coaches could have turned into a really bad situation. It turned out great. They both were great additions and they bring a lot.””

    Although the Wildcats lost a talented senior class and had to deal with the transition of two new assistants, they welcome back four starters, including All-Pac-10 honorable mention recipients in middle blockers Kristina Baum, a senior, and Dominique Lamb, a junior.

    All-Pac-10 freshman honorable mention selection Brittany Leonard, a libero, and setters Stephanie Butkus and Dyck also return.

    “”This year is an opportunity for us to get some experience under our belts and win,”” Rubio said.

    With these returners and a top-notch freshman class, the Arizona volleyball team isn’t even thinking about the “”R”” word.

    “”A lot of the talk is going to be about what we have lost last year,”” Gonzalez said. “”People will label this year as a rebuilding year, but what I told the players is that we are not going to use that word.””

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