Say hello to sand volleyball, Arizona
The UA’s newest athletic team, sand volleyball, will debut this weekend by hosting the two–day Arizona Invitational.
The Wildcats will begin their inaugural season at 2 p.m. Friday against Arizona Christian.
The Arizona Sand Volleyball Courts are at Jimenez Field, on the corner of Enke Drive and Campbell Avenue, near McKale Center. Admission is free and fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, as there are no bleacher seats.
Arizona’s 20th varsity sport features 13 players, nine of whom were members of the indoor team in the fall.
Ronni Lewis (left), Madi Kingdon, Madison Witt and McKenna Witt are all members of the new sand volleyball team. The first tournament will be held this weekend. The Wildcats play Arizona Christian at 2 p.m. on Friday and Grand Canyon at 10 a.m., and ASU at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“I think our team has been meshing very well,” said Madi Kingdon, who was named to the All-Pac 12 team last season. “All of us have been coming out and practicing hard almost every day. We are looking forward to starting the season, and I think we are all in a good mindset now.”
On Saturday, Arizona plays Grand Canyon at 10 a.m. and ASU at 4 p.m.
Arizona head coach Steve Walker said he has been very pleased with the progress the Wildcats have made.
“The team has been meeting my daily expectations of coming in, being willing to learn, and going hard every single day to improve,” Walker said.
Junior Jane Croson, who finished second on the indoor team with 300 kills, said the wind can be a factor moving outdoors.
“Talking will be key for the games,” Croson said. “You have to really communicate with your partner, since it’s just you and her. You also need to really focus on moving your feet and not getting trapped in the sand.”
Last week, Arizona’s Red-Blue Exhibition was canceled due to the weather, and the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Arizona Sand Volleyball Courts was moved to today at 1:30 p.m.
Walker said the Wildcats’ best offense right now is being very efficient in the serve–receive game.
In sand volleyball, the players compete in two-person teams.
Walker said some players find it awkward moving from indoor to outdoor.
“I would say maybe from an attacking standpoint, being a little off balance can give the [opposing] defense a bad read on what you are doing,” Walker said. “That is something that can translate fairly well, but something that we don’t necessarily teach and preach out here.”
—Follow Tyler Keckeisen @tyler_keckeisen