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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona volleyball’s young team looks promising for future

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Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA vs Washington

It’s not often that a Division I volleyball program, in a top conference like the Pac-12, starts three freshmen.

Coaches typically give freshman recruits an adjustment period prior to handing them the responsibility of a starting position.

For the Wildcats this season, that wasn’t an option.

“My first Pac-12 game I was really scared and nervous,” freshman middle blocker Olivia Magill said. “But now I feel like ‘oh this is college now, and I can do it.’ so I feel a lot better about my game.”

Arizona opposites Halli Amaro, setter Lauren Fuller and Magill are a necessity in the starting lineup due to a lack of experience on the Arizona roster.

Head coach Dave Rubio dedicated the first portion of the season to setting a mental foundation for the team. Rubio said he wanted the new players to learn discipline and to have a focused, competitive mentality every time they stepped in the gym.

“They’re certainly athletic enough, but they have to be able to come into practice every day and apply themselves,” Rubio said.

Rubio said the process would take time and that it could get frustrating for everyone on the team.

“As a freshman, your emotions are really inconsistent, being happy and upset and frustrated — but the emotion and initial confusion is beginning to fade,” Amaro said.

With that problem beginning to resolve itself, Rubio plans to move on to other areas needing improvement.

“Now that we’ve set that foundation, we have to make them physically better,” Rubio said, “and we have to make the skills sets better.”

Despite the task at hand, Rubio said recent games against USC and UCLA were the best he’s seen the freshmen play all season. Magill leads the team in hitting percentage with .370. She and Amaro have 179 combined kills this season, Fuller is averaging 5.75 assists per set and has 207 assists and Amaro is second on the team in total blocks, with 50.

“All three of them showed that they can play at a very, very high level and they demonstrated that to me consistently, not just one or two contacts,” Rubio said.

The team is eight weeks into the season and six games into conference play, but things won’t get any easier since the Wildcats will have more road games and tougher competition.

“Freshmen year there’s so many variables that go into play for them,” Rubio said. “So the question now is ‘can we continue to make the progress?’ And there’s not reason why we can’t. They have some real promise for us in the future.”

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