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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Key takeaways from Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio’s virtual press conference

Caitlin Claypool
Sofia Maldonado Diaz (2) spikes the ball during a game on Sunday, Mar. 14. The Wildcats competed against the Colorado Buffalo and were victorious by winning 3 out of 4 games.

University of Arizona volleyball team’s head coach Dave Rubio held a virtual press conference on Wednesday, March 17.

The Wildcats are coming off a weekend sweep over Colorado at home after riding a difficult losing streak. Arizona dominated the Buffaloes with a set score of 6-2 in both matches combined. 

A sweep over Colorado was an encouraging sign for this young Arizona team as they look to pick up some steam heading into the final stretch of the season.

With only three weeks left in the season, Rubio is optimistic that his squad’s best performances are still ahead of them despite the grueling grind to an unusual season.

“The hope is that we’re going to play our best volleyball in the next three weeks,” Rubio said. “I know there’s been a grind for everybody up to this point. I’ve been giving a bit more time off with the team.”

Here are some key takeaways from the rest of the press conference.

Rubio senses freshmen and the rest of the team are trending in the right direction

Arizona continues to receive and benefit from the strong play of their young freshmen. They have registered commendable performances all year as this was certainly the case this past weekend against Colorado.

Rubio has a strong sense that his 2020 freshman class and team overall is starting to turn the corner and trend upward.

“We’re certainly trending in the right direction,” Rubio said. “This was a solid weekend for us by several players. Jaleesa [Caroccio], our serving sub, came in and really made a difference. We earned several points when she was serving. Malina Ua passed really well, maybe the best match of the season in terms of the serves received on Sunday.”

After key middle blocker China Rouch went down a month ago with an injury, Arizona had to quickly adopt a next man up mentality. Rubio offered tremendous praise to Merle Weidt for filling in smoothly and even exceeding expectations in the process.

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“When China went down four weeks ago, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Merle but boy, she has met and exceeded my expectations and has really added to the team in terms of her great personality, dynamics and how hard she plays,” Rubio said.

Rubio worried about upcoming weekend matchup against California

Arizona currently ranks sixth as they sit right in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12 conference standings. Meanwhile, California ranks twelfth and sits all the way at the very bottom of the conference. This California team has captured only one win all season in 16 matches.

Rubio wasn’t shy to admit that he’s scared about the team’s pending matchup against California due to their history of playing in Berkeley [California] and that it’s easy to overlook a team that is ranked last in conference standings.

“This weekend scares me to death,” Rubio said. “Just because we’re playing at [California] and we typically don’t play well at [California]. When you know you’re playing against one of the top teams in the conference, psychologically you have to play well. I’m not sure with a young team where that falls for them. If I’m basing anything off of today’s practice, it makes me even more nervous.”

Junior Zyonna Fellows understands that the team can’t afford to get complacent and take California for granted due to only sporting a 1-15 record.

“Playing every team, you always want to work hard to beat [them],” Fellows said. “You want to have a good practice before [games]. Today’s practice we could have did a little better, and we know we have a good team ahead of us, and we have to play to that standard. As long as we continue to work hard and play our game of volleyball and not play down to any team’s level, we should be good. I believe that we can come out and win Friday and Sunday’s game.”

Arizona will face off against California on Friday, March 19, at 6 p.m. MST and again on Sunday, March 21, at 1 p.m. MST. Both matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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