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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    V-ball back on court in spring tournment

    The Arizona volleyball team returned to action for the first time since finishing its season in November, as the Wildcats played host to the Arizona Spring Tournament on Saturday in McKale Center.

    The tournament included ASU, New Mexico State, New Mexico, UNLV and Texas-El Paso in round-robin competition, where each team played two games against each opponent. The Wildcats took both games from UTEP and ASU, split with New Mexico and UNLV and lost both to New Mexico State. As the tournament was unofficial, no scores were kept.

    UA head coach Dave Rubio said spring tournaments are a crucial part of his team’s growth and that the competition against real opponents is an important aspect to the maturity of the squad. Arizona will compete in a series of tournaments this semester.

    “”It’s fun for everyone to get away from the practice aspect and start to compete,”” Rubio said. “”There are a lot of areas that we want to see if we improved in, and so far it has been good. You can’t really simulate what you see in a tournament in a practice.

    “”It is a lot easier and a lot more fun for the players to compete against other faces on the other side of the net. For us, it is really about trying to improve our skills and improve in our system.””

    After becoming accustomed to participating in the NCAA Tournament, with 10 straight berths under Rubio, the Wildcats fell short of the postseason last year when they finished 13-16 and in ninth place in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    And the players still have a chip on their shoulders.

    “”We didn’t have as great of a season last year as we were expecting, and we were so close to pushing it over the top,”” said middle blocker hitter Jacy Norton. “”The training is really starting to pay off, and it is refreshing to see how far we have come.”” Rubio agreed.

    “”Last year was difficult,”” he said. “”Any time you finish under .500 or don’t go to the playoffs, it’s tough. It’s a building process for us, and we certainly have terrific talent. It is about trying to get the talent developed. We are getting closer. By the time the ball rolls around (next fall), we feel like we are going to be one of the top teams, but it’s going to take a while for us to get there.””

    With the regular season not yielding many opportunities for bench players to see heavy action, there is much opportunity for some of the younger and less experienced members of the squad to get their feet wet in the spring.

    The spring tournaments, which Rubio said occur in a “”much more relaxed”” environment than regular-season matchups, are windows of opportunity for players who don’t usually get playing time to step in and show what they are capable of.

    Audrey Bockerstette, a defensive specialist who saw limited action last season, said she enjoys the atmosphere and the opportunity that comes along with it.

    “”It’s fun because you get more experience, and you are better prepared for next year,”” she said. “”Everyone gets a chance to grow and show how much better you have gotten through practice.””

    Outside hitter Whitney Dosty, one of the freshmen who saw a significant amount of playing time in the fall, said spring tournaments are vital to everyone’s growth, not just the inexperienced players.

    “”I think it gives us a chance to see how we have grown as a team,”” Dosty said. “”(The Arizona Spring Tournament) is a good evaluation of how we have come along. It also shows how much more work we need to do and how much more we need to continue to focus.””

    After all the shortcomings from a year ago, the team is eager to get back on the court and chase the postseason once again.

    “”Ever since our season has been over, I have been ready to start playing again,”” said middle blocker Dominique Lamb. “”I think we did pretty good. We were kind of slow at the beginning, but I feel like we picked it up toward the end.

    “”I think everyone is ready for next season so we can prove what we are capable of.””

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