UA ready to serve up sand volleyball
This January, the UA and ASU will be among the six Pac-12 teams to have a recognized sand volleyball team.
The head coach of the Wildcats’ sand volleyball team will be Steve Walker, former assistant coach for Arizona’s indoor volleyball team. Walker said he expects getting the program started will be a “process.”
“Like any business owner, I’m looking at this as a startup. In the very beginning what would you do to try to build a business from the ground up is I’m going to try to surround myself with the best people possible. I’ve hired good assistant coaches, getting organized, getting the athletes set up with academic counselors, we will hit the ground running,” Walker said.
Walker began as an assistant coach for Arizona indoor volleyball under head coach Dave Rubio from 2003 to 2005, before becoming the head coach at UC Davis. He then came back to Arizona and joined Rubio’s staff again in 2008.
Junior libero Ronni Lewis said she she has learned a lot from Walker over the past two seasons and was very excited when she learned he would be the head coach.
The new sand team will play at Jimenez Practice Facility, which is the current practice field for Arizona football. The facility is next to Jerry Kindall Field, the old on campus stadium for Arizona baseball before the team moved off campus to Hi Corbett Field in 2012.
Sand volleyball differs from indoor volleyball in that only two players are on each team rather than six. Current scholarship indoor players can play on the sand team, but sand scholarship players cannot play on the indoor team.
“I don’t think that’s going to bare any issues, I think it’s a good rule to have or we’ll just have too big of an indoor team,” said Lewis. Walker said that the sand scholarship players can eventually play on the indoor team, but only after two full seasons and in that case they would have to come off of the sand scholarship.
The schedule is yet to be determined. Lewis said that it will be great for the team to start with a natural rival. Last season, the indoor team nearly made the NCAA tournament, but a loss to ASU at the end of the season kept them from making the postseason.