Volleyball season review: highs, lows, new goals
Arizona volleyball enjoyed a successful season, getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and achieving one of its goals after missing the big dance last year.
Arizona made an appearance at the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time since 1981 after winning 20 matches in the regular season, the most wins since 2010. One of those wins was against what was then the No. 1 team, USC on Oct. 20.
The Wildcats only lost two Pac-12 conference matches at home which were against Stanford and Washington, and lost another home game to Kansas. Arizona also received half a point of the Territorial Cup Series, after splitting the two matches with ASU. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils at home in their last regular season match.
Ryan Revock/ The Daily Wildcat The UA volleyball team celebrates on the court moments after defeating No. 1 USC on Oct. 20 in the McKale Center.
Toward the end of the season, the team suffered from communication problems. The Wildcats were swept by Washington in three sets at home, and the main issue was that they weren’t communicating well as a team.
Team members had to make some adjustments, according to head coach Dave Rubio. The team was able to fix its communication problems and ended the season united, with a goal to get deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Senior libero Candace Nicholson will be remembered for her outstanding career in Arizona and setting school records.
She finished as the all-time leader in single-season and career digs. Nicholson is also the only player to ever record more than 500 digs in the season, with 512. She finished her career as a Wildcat with 1,642 digs and was the first Arizona player to be recognized as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
Nicholson also had the most digs in the conference for a single match.
Junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon was a significant contributor on the Arizona roster this season as well.
She finished with 16 double-doubles this season, and was one of the league’s top offensive players, leading the conference in points, ranked third in kills and fourth in service aces.
Kingdon finished second on the team with digs, recording 378 of them. She is currently ranked sixth for career kills in school history, recording 1,312 with one more year left at Arizona.
Outlook for next year
Arizona only has two players who are done with their careers. While Nicholson and junior Shaquillah Torres will not return next season, Rubio said he is confident about next year’s starting lineup since most of the starters are returning.
The experience the juniors on the lineup have should be an advantage for Arizona in the upcoming season. Kingdon and juniors Jane Croson and Taylor Arizobal are three key players returning.
Croson recorded 334.5 points this season, being second on the team and Arizobal contributed with 266.5, being fourth. Freshman setter Penina Snuka, who led the team and the conference with 19 double-doubles, will also return.
—Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela @RoseAlyVal