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Friday, April 18, 2014 | Last updated: 9:20pm

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Volleyball faces familiar foes in NCAA opener



The first match of the 2013 NCAA volleyball tournament for Arizona is approaching, and head coach Dave Rubio and the team are preparing for the first round on Friday.

Dave Rubio will be facing not only New Mexico State, but also his brother, Keith Rubio, who is an assistant coach at NMSU.

“It’s a little bit of a distraction to have him on the other side,” Dave Rubio said. “I like to treat all my opponents as if they’re the enemy. I can be friends with him after the match.”

Dave Rubio is also close to New Mexico’s head coach, Mike Jordan, but he will have to put that aside on Friday when the Wildcats face the Aggies. Dave Rubio said it is harder to compete against good friends.

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rebecca Marie Sasnett/The Daily Wildcat

Tucson local and NMSU senior middle blocker Desiree Scott will present some challenges for the Wildcats.

“She’s going to be somebody that we’re going to have to really slow down,” Dave Rubio said. “She’s comparable to some of the top middles in our conference.”

Arizona senior libero Candace Nicholson and junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon said they are prepared for Scott.

“She’s one player [who’s] not going to make their team,” Kingdon said. “I think that we can stop her.”

Both Kingdon and Nicholson have not gone past the first round of the tournament in their careers as Wildcats, so they are trying to get the young team members to focus before heading to San Diego.

“We need to let them know how much work it’s going to take even just to get past the first round,” Kingdon said.

It is Nicholson’s last year in Arizona, and her main goal is to get deep into the tournament. She said the team will do anything it can to defeat NMSU.

Both players said they feel prepared to face NMSU because they are confident about playing a team that is not part of the Pac-12 Conference.

“That’s the nicest thing about playing in the Pac-12: As a team, we think that there is nothing we haven’t seen already,” Nicholson said.

The team had problems communicating early during the season, but has remained united and aims to stay on the same page for the tournament.

— Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela @RoseAlyVal


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