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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball makes Pac-12 Network debut against ASU

Turki Allugman / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA volleyball team plays TCU at McKale Center on Sept. 7, 2012.

After an impressive 8-3 start to the season, the Arizona Women’s Volleyball team is about to hit the thick of its schedule as it starts Pac-12 conference play against Arizona State. The Wildcats will take on the Sun Devils in McKale Center at 7 p.m. in the UA’s Pac-12 Network debut.

“I think when you jump into conference there’s a lot more at stake in a sense and the level of play is a lot higher,” head coach David Rubio said.

In terms of history, Wildcats lead the Sun Devils with an all-time record of 42-39, including 6-4 in the last 10 matchups.

“ASU’s very good. I like their team,” Rubio said. “They have some kids on there who are tough, hard-nosed competitors. They’re talented, they’re young. I like the direction their program is going, so it’s going to be a battle on Tuesday.”

After some struggles in practice, where Rubio has expressed frustration in the Wildcats’ effort, Arizona appears to have bounced back after winning all three of its games in the Arizona Invitational on Friday and Saturday. As a team with so many newcomers — including three transfers and seven freshmen — Rubio has said he expected the transition to be tough at first, but the Wildcats appear to have found a groove as they head into Pac-12 play.

Still, games won’t be easy considering the talent in the conference.

UCLA won last year’s national championship and USC, Stanford and Oregon are close behind them in the rankings. Players and coaches recognize that having a Pac-12 opener played in front of a national audience will be a good test.

“Coach has talked about the network a little bit, but we’re just making sure we stay focused on the game,” freshman setter Lauren Fuller said.

The network spotlight does seem to faze Rubio this week. He said the team is expected to play and perform regardless of who is watching.

College volleyball is rarely a televised sport, as airtime has traditionally been reserved for sports with larger audiences, like football, basketball or even softball, for the Wildcats. In its inaugural year, the Pac-12 Network has scheduled 13 Arizona volleyball games to be televised for the season, six of which are home games.

“There’s really no impact on the playing,” Rubio said. “Whether or not the cameras are there, the team’s focus should be on the court so it doesn’t necessarily make a difference.”

Arizona has a tough road ahead, as it will face Washington, Stanford and California, all before the end of September.

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