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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Volleyball to use new facility on Monday

    After years of anticipation, the brand new $14 million facility east of McKale Center will be put to use.

    The indoor multipurpose facility will be used primarily for volleyball and basketball practices, sizing up to 22,400 square feet – not including the other 8,600.

    There will be an expanded facility for the gymnastics team, and just outside you’ll find brand new swimming and diving additions, costing another $6 million.

    Every year, the Arizona volleyball team holds half its seasonal practices in McKale and the other half in Bear Down Gym due to the start of basketball practices.

    Despite the history and appreciation for Bear Down, UA head coach Dave Rubio foresees a lot of plusses to practicing in the new facility instead.

    “”At this point, there are a lot of advantages of being over there,”” Rubio said. “”I mean, just from a logistic standpoint, it’s a lot closer and the kids don’t have to walk as far – not that that’s been a problem in the past. It’s a volleyball- and basketball-only facility for intercollegiate athletics and I think that makes a big difference for us.””

    The gym’s layout is long and slender – two basketball courts lengthwise – which conveniently enables different court setups and scenarios for the squad.

    “”The building’s fairly narrow, so we can set up courts two different ways: one’s match-style and the other one’s kind of training style,”” Rubio said. “”For training style, the walls are pretty narrow – it’s only 10 feet from the end of the court to the wall – so it’s not ideal for working on serve-receive.””

    The squad will get a chance to set up three or four courts along with the match court, he added.

    This may not sound like a big deal to the Arizona student or fan, but this means huge things as far as recruitment goes. Not that the players know much more about the building than anyone else.

    None of the volleyball players have even stepped into the building – their knowledge comes from rumors and reading about it like everybody else.

    “”I haven’t seen it, I’ve only driven by it a few times,”” senior Brooke Buringrud said. “”I heard there’s a 20-foot poster of Richard Jefferson in there though.””

    Jefferson, a Milwaukee Bucks forward, used to play basketball at Arizona and contributed a generous $3.5 million to the facility.

    Junior Jacy Norton said she got her visual of the new gym by going on the Arizona Athletics Web site for a virtual tour.

    There are a lot of things for coaches and players to look forward to: being one of the first teams to use it, bouncy new floors, even that new hardware smell of fresh finish.

    Not for one player, though. Buringrud said she’s most looking forward to not having to practice in Bear Down anymore.

    “”It’s like a swamp in there,”” the outside hitter said. “”It’s very humid. We sweat through at least three dry fits practicing in that gym. We mop the floors (in between plays). It’s disgusting.””

    It’s obvious what the players like the least about the 82-year-old building, but for the coaches and staff, transporting all of the necessary equipment causes the most grief.

    It’s not like it’s a long journey, but carrying everything to and from Bear Down is time consuming and obnoxious, to say the least.

    The facility’s designers sought the coaches out and asked for their input when plans were being drawn up a couple years back.

    “”Fortunately, I was able to give some input on the height of the ceiling – that was important for us,”” Rubio said. “”But they came and they asked me, ‘What would you like to see?’ so I was appreciative that they even asked me for my opinion.””

    The head coach said he tried to get the walls to move out wider for a little more space from the end line to the wall, but it couldn’t happen because of financial constraints.

    “”We’ve also had to go in there and give some feedback on the lines and where the courts should be positioned and those kinds of things,”” Rubio added.

    When the thought of seeing the new gym before Monday’s practice presented itself to Buringrud, she contemplated the possibility, and then made her decision.

    “”Playing in a new facility will be something fun and exciting,”” Buringrud said. “”You know what? I’m just going to let it be a surprise. I think it’ll be a nice present on Monday.””

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