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The Daily Wildcat

 

UA volleyball prepares for three weekend games

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Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat

No. 23 Arizona volleyball returns to action this weekend in the first athletic event in the newly renovated McKale Center. The Wildcats host Alabama State, Loyola-Chicago and Cal State Northridge in the Arizona Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

Arizona’s matchup with Alabama State is set to take place Friday morning at 10:30 a.m., with the Wildcats scheduled to take on Loyola-Chicago later that evening at 7 p.m.

Two of the many renovations that have taken place in McKale Center are the addition of a brand new wooden floor and new seats for spectators.

“I can’t wait to play on the new court,” sophomore libero Laura Larson said. “We’ve all been looking forward to and waiting for this since last season. It’s nice to finally get in a practice in here, and I can’t wait for the fans to see it.”

Saturday night will give way to a duel between Arizona and Cal State Northridge. The Matadors — the only team in the tournament Arizona has faced before — are fresh off a sweep of the UNLV Invitational after subduing the Rebels twice in addition to Central Kentucky.

“I think it will be a good opportunity for us to continue working what we’ve been working on: getting a little more consistent with our serving, passing the ball a little bit better,” head coach Dave Rubio said. “We’re hosting a good group of schools. Alabama State and Loyola-Chicago are going to be a couple mid-majors who are building their programs, and Northridge is every bit as good as we are.”

The Wildcats impressed last weekend after sweeping the Green Bay Tournament and were promptly bumped up into the AVCA Coaches Top 25. Senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon contributed heavily and was subsequently named the tournament MVP and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after a 64-kill weekend.

Arizona went from being unranked to No. 23 in the country, marking the first time since October 2013 that Arizona has appeared in the Top 25. The ranking also represents the highest placement for the Wildcats since they were pegged as No. 20 in November 2011.

While Arizona holds a 3-2 advantage over CSUN in the all-time series history, the Wildcats most recently fell to the Matadors in five sets on Aug. 24, 2012.

“They’re an excellent program, and it’s going to be a very good test for us,” Rubio said. “They went to the second round [of the NCAA Tournament] last year and are returning a lot of players as well. Physically, they’re going to match up with us.”

—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17

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