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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Frosh not fazed by bright lights

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona womens volleyball played Washington.  The Wildcats won.
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona women’s volleyball played Washington. The Wildcats won.

Candace Nicholson, the UA volleyball team’s starting libero, has never been one to get caught up in the moment. That quality can only help the freshman come Friday, when the No. 20 Wildcats take on Northwestern in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“”There’s some players that you coach who are just completely oblivious to their surroundings, and Candace is one of them,”” Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said. “”It doesn’t matter if she’s playing at Madison Square Garden or in her high school gym, she just plays. That’s the good news about her — she’s not going to be too freaked out or anxious.””

Part of the reason that Rubio doesn’t think Nicholson will be taken aback by the NCAA Tournament atmosphere is the experience she was able to pick up in Arizona’s tournaments earlier in the season.

“”We flew into Chicago last time then drove to Notre Dame, so that prepares us a little bit for that,”” Rubio said.

Nicholson also agreed with her coach’s reasoning and thinks that the tournament experience she picked up earlier this year — specifically the Shamrock Invitational hosted by Notre Dame — is going to help her be as ready as possible when the Wildcats take to the court this weekend.

“”That was the farthest I’ve been (from home) with this team, and I know Iowa’s about the same amount of time away,”” Nicholson said. “”Now I kind of know what to expect, and nothing should really surprise me.””

Travel isn’t the only part of postseason play that has a learning curve; being able to perform in a do-or-die situation is a new experience for many players. Nicholson is anxious to see how she reacts to that kind of pressure.

“”Dave (Rubio) has done a great job explaining what he’s been through, but no one’s really talked much about it. We’re just trying to focus on Northwestern,”” Nicholson said. “”I don’t really know what to expect, it’s kind of exciting.””

Rubio isn’t the only one who has tried to give Nicholson an idea of what postseason play is like. Senior outside hitter Tiffany Owens has also had some input to the freshman on what she should expect.

“”(I tell her) just don’t be nervous. It’s just like a regular conference game — nothing different,”” Owens said. “”It’s a privilege for us to be in the tournament, because only 64 teams get in, and we’re fortunate to be one of those 64. I tell her just don’t be nervous at all, be confident just like any other game.””

No matter how much her teammates try to prepare her for what she’s going to encounter on Friday, Nicholson still thinks nerves might play a role.

“”I don’t know if I’m nervous or more excited,”” Nicholson said. “”I’m sure when I get there nerves will kick in, but as of right now I’m just really excited to be able to play in the tournament.””

Running with the Pac

All Pacific 10 Conference selections were announced Tuesday, and four Wildcats were recognized for their performance this season.

Owens was named All Pac-10, while Paige Weber and Cursty Jackson were on the Honorable Mention list.

Nicholson was Honorable Mention on the All-Freshman team.

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