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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Volleyball loses first match

    Arizona volleyball head coach David Rubio said his team’s goal is to be 11-1 at the end of its nonconference season.

    The Wildcats went 2-1 this weekend when they hosted the Sheraton Four Points Arizona Invitational tournament. They beat Texas State (25-13, 25-21, 25-14) and Texas Tech (25-17, 25-20, 25-17), but lost a four-game match against Santa Clara (26-24, 19-25, 23-25, 20-25), giving them a record of 5-1 thus far.

    “”Against Santa Clara, we just got out-served and out-passed,”” said UA opposite hitter Randy Goodenough. “”They beat us in those areas, so we definitely found out that those are areas we need to work on in order to be successful on our side. We still came out and fought, but it seems like they out-played us tactically.””

    The sets to the middle are fast-paced – often times hit right out of the setter’s hands – giving the opposing team little time to react. Since quick attacks are the hardest to cover, the defenders usually anticipate them first.

    “”By improving our passing, it will get our middles more in the mix and give our pin players a better chance to score,”” Goodenough said.

    Here is how it’s broken down:

    If the middle is in the air ready to kill a quick set, the blockers on the other side can anticipate this and stay in front of her. A smart setter will see this and then set the ball to one of the pin players (one of the outside hitters). This often leaves only one blocker to defend, creating a bigger percentage of open court, and thus more free space to bury the ball.

    If the blocker on the opposing side cheats over to the outside and the middle is set, it is almost impossible to defend.

    Without a near-perfect pass, the ambiguous attacking system becomes easier to read – this is why the defensive aspect of volleyball is so valued.

    Junior Jacy Norton and her team agreed that intensity was lacking in the team’s match against Santa Clara.

    There were other times throughout the course of the tournament where Arizona seemed to be in a rut.

    “”Usually, I think it’s just the momentum change, like making back-to-back errors,”” Norton explained. “”It mentally becomes taxing and it’s hard to get out of that. But you really just have to side out and go from there.

    “”I think my biggest contribution was energy and enthusiasm,”” added Norton, who ended the tournament when she buried a quick set on Texas Tech’s side. “”(Setter) Paige (Weber) and I tried to get everyone fired up by making big plays at critical times.””

    After two sets in a collegiate match, each team has a meeting in their respective locker rooms. On Friday night, the Wildcats were 1-1 in the match with Santa Clara when they departed for their private meeting.

    During the meeting, Rubio emphasized two areas he thought could have been better. First, he thought the team had stopped functioning as a team and started playing as individuals. The second thing he said was there were too many service and passing errors. The Wildcats had three total service errors in the match and nine the previous match against Texas State.

    “”This is why we train as hard as we do,”” Rubio said. “”Everything in practice applies to the game. And we need to learn to play at that level together.””

    After the final game on Saturday against Texas Tech, Rubio didn’t change much from what he said in his mid-match discussion the previous night, but took a different approach. He started by asking the players if they wanted to hear the good or the bad news first.

    The team responded simultaneously and without hesitation: “”The bad news.””

    “”We have a long way to go,”” Rubio answered. “”But the good news is that we’re closer to the top than the bottom. We’ve improved significantly in the last seven days.””

    In order for the Wildcats to reach their goal of 11-1, they must win their next six matches on the road.

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