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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Frosh battling for court time

    Junior libero Brittany Leonard sets a ball in Sundays Red-Blue scrimmage in McKale Center. Seniors Katie Jackels and Emily Harper and junior Audrey Bockerstette, are competing with Leonard for time at the position.
    Junior libero Brittany Leonard sets a ball in Sunday’s Red-Blue scrimmage in McKale Center. Seniors Katie Jackels and Emily Harper and junior Audrey Bockerstette, are competing with Leonard for time at the position.

    As many coaches have put it before, the best players on a team will play at game time. This season, Arizona volleyball’s best players could be freshmen.

    After losing starters Kristina Baum and Stephanie Butkus, the Wildcats have brought in five new players expected to contend and add depth at every position. Both the veterans and newcomers have been battling one another in practice to secure starting spots, as the freshmen are making a name for themselves quickly.

    “”Every player is working hard, and each spot is hotly contested,”” said head coach Dave Rubio after the team’s annual Red-Blue intrasquad game Sunday in McKale Center.

    Last year Arizona started Butkus at setter, and she ended her Wildcat career with 4,035 assists, the second most ever for a Wildcat. Although she graduated, Arizona has plenty of choices to replace her.

    Amy Dyck returns as a senior setter with a career average of 6.54 assists per game, but the position is not necessarily a lock, as she will be competing with freshman Paige Weber, whom Rubio has called “”one of the best setters we have ever brought in.””

    Weber received the 2006 Andi Collins Award, which recognizes the nation’s best high school senior setter, and was also named Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

    Baum had a final season of eligiblity after missing all of last year with a knee injury, but she has chosen to leave the team in favor of completing her English degree, Rubio said.

    In her absence, Whitney Dosty, who made an impact as a freshman starter last season, and Brooke Buringrud return at the outside hitter position to anchor the Wildcats’ attack. With the addition of freshman Tiffany Owens, a national top-50 recruit from San Bernardino, Calif., the team should pose a strong offensive threat.

    “”The competition is outstanding,”” Owens said. “”There’s a lot of intensity when you’re practicing on the court. Everyone around you is good, rather than just one person. It’s a lot different than high school.””

    Owens and Weber are not the only standout freshmen this year. Though senior Dominique Lamb and sophomore Jacy Norton return at middle blocker, Norton said that she has good competition for a starting spot – referring to freshmen Stephanie Snow from Tempe and Kaylen Bannister from Germany.

    “”I think we have good middle blockers coming in, so I’m trying to work as hard as I can to make sure I stay on the court,”” Norton said with a smile. “”Stephanie and Kaylen are both very talented. They’re going to give me a run for my money.””

    Listed as a utility player, Elise Hendrickson, the fifth freshman, can be an asset at opposite hitter, Rubio said.

    “”We have an outstanding freshman group,”” Rubio said. “”Everyone that we’ve brought in has the ability to play and make an impact for us. They will play a pivotal role in our success this season.””

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