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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona sand volleyball starts season ranked No. 6

Rebecca Noble

Arizona sand volleyball player McKenna Witt (21) dives for a volley while Madison Witt (23) looks on during Arizona’s 4-1 victory over Arizona State on Wednesday at Jimenez Field. The Wildcats closed their home portion of the season with a 8-1 record.

As the weather heats up, Arizona Beach Volleyball is ready to take their talents back to the sand courts with a preseason ranking of No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.

The 2017 season marks the program’s fourth year at Arizona, and the Wildcats are coming off a 20-7 2016 record that was topped off with a NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship run.

Last season was record setting in many ways for Pac-12 Coach of the Year Steve Walker. It was the first time Arizona earned a top six ranking, went undefeated at home and made a championship appearance.

The Wildcats postseason run was cut just short when they were swept by No. 5 seed Hawaii on the second day of championship play. The loss sent the Wildcats home to the Arizona heat from the Alabama coast, where Walker would begin the journey to recruitment for this season.

With five seniors to replace, Walker added freshman with promising futures and ties to the university, including Caroline Cordes who comes from a family cemented in Arizona Athletics. Her father Bill played football at Arizona and her brother is Olympic gold medalist and NCAA Swimming Champion Kevin.

Arizona’s best pair is returning this season in seniors Madison Witt and McKenna Witt. Last year, the twins were named 2016 AVCA All-Americans, Pac-12 All-Conference First Team and Pac-12 All-Academic Team.

Five Pac-12 schools made the top 15 ranking, including last year’s NCAA Champion, USC at No. 1 and UCLA at No. 3. The Wildcats will face both Southern California schools in 2017, in addition to a season opening championship rematch with No. 5 Hawaii on March 3.

Follow Nikki Baim on Twitter.

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