Volleyball coach Rubio reaches milestone in perfect weekend
Arizona volleyball had a perfect weekend, going 3-0, and head coach Dave Rubio reached a milestone.
Coming off the disappointment of losing to No. 20 Kansas last weekend, the Wildcats responded with victories over previously undefeated Butler and Eastern Kentucky and then defeated Utah Valley, all without losing a set in the Arizona Desert Classic.
The win over Utah Valley was the 400th match victory for Rubio at Arizona.
“I’m really more focused on our team getting better, but it’s certainly a nice honor,” Rubio said. “More than anything, it shows that if you’re at a place for a long time, eventually, you’re going to get there,” Rubio said.
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Madi Kingdon spikes over #10, Candice Biltz from Eastern Kentucky. The UA Volleyball team swept the Arizona Desert Classic over the weekend.
While Rubio said it wasn’t a big deal, junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon said she is proud of her coach.
“He’s so modest. I mean, I think it’s a big thing for him. I’m glad we’re here to be a part of that and get his 400th win for him,” Kingdon said.
In the first match of the weekend against Butler on Friday, Kingdon and fellow junior outside hitters Jane Croson combined for 29 kills, and freshman setter Penina Snuka had her second double-double of the season with 32 assists and 11 digs. The Wildcats dominated the first set against Butler, winning 25-11, won the second set 25-19 and won the third 25-20.
Rubio said the Wildcats’ practices got better after they lost 3-1 to Kansas at home on Aug. 31.
“It got progressively better because I thought Thursday was one of our best practices,” Rubio said. “The execution was much better Thursday, so there’s not always a correlation between how you practice and how you play. But I’d rather practice well and go into a match and feel like we’re going to play well because of the way we practiced.”
After defeating Butler, the Wildcats next played against Eastern Kentucky Saturday morning, also a 3-0 win. In the match, nine different players for Arizona had at least one kill.
“I think the key to our performance was really just coming out and executing early in the morning. Because with really early morning practice and [a] 10:30 [a.m.] match, sometimes you can come in and not be ready for a game,” junior middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said.
Although the Wildcats also swept Utah Valley on Saturday, Rubio wasn’t very happy.
“I’m not particularly pleased with tonight’s match, there were too many unforced errors,” Rubio said. “It was a little bit sloppy for us. To go in the direction that we want to go, we need to contend in the upper half of the conference. Our mind’s got to be in a better place,” Rubio said.
Arizona travels to the Hawaii tournament next, where it will play Northwestern on Thursday, Portland State on Friday and Hawaii on Saturday.
—Follow Derek Evans @DerekEvans20