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Friday, September 19, 2014 | Last updated: 10:48am

Arizona volleyball opens with three weekend games



Arizona volleyball will begin its 2014 season this Friday and Saturday at the Wisconsin Tournament in Green Bay. The Wildcats are slated to compete against South Dakota in Friday’s match and will face off against Wisconsin-Green Bay and Kansas State the following afternoon.

The UA hasn’t faced South Dakota or Wisconsin-Green Bay before in program history, but possesses a 2-0 record against Kansas State. Arizona’s last face-off with the Kansas State Wildcats came nearly 27 years ago in September 1987, when the UA dispatched Kansas State 3-0 in Fort Collins, Colo.

Head coach Dave Rubio and his squad look to improve upon last year’s accomplishments, which saw the Wildcats receive an NCAA Tournament berth — the team’s fourth postseason appearance in the past five years. Arizona’s 21-13 record in 2013 included statement victories against UCLA and then-No. 1 USC in Tucson.

Rubio, who stands as the longest tenured volleyball coach in the conference, has led his team into the playoffs 16 out of his 22 seasons at the helm of the program. Going into his 23rd season at the head of Arizona volleyball, Rubio holds a 416-247 overall record at the UA and has secured a Pac-10 title (2000) and a Final Four appearance (2001).

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat
Arizona outside hitter Madi Kingdon (9) spikes the ball during Arizona's 3-0 win against Loyola Maryland in McKale Center on Sept. 20, 2013. The Wildcats open the season with three games over the weekend.

This year, Rubio said he’s excited to get the season started. He said that he has a very special group of girls who he believes could reach greater heights than they did last year.

Senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon looks to close out an impressive collegiate career and is on pace to finish in Arizona’s career top 10 in six categories — matches played, sets played, kills, assists, 10 kill matches and 20 kill matches — by the time she graduates.

If Kingdon plays in every game this season, which she’s done twice before, she will leave as the UA’s all-time leader in matches played. Subsequently, if she competes in 115 sets this year (last year she played in 116), she will pass Brad Lee as the all-time leader in sets played.

Senior libero Ronni Lewis,senior middle blocker Rachel Rhoades and senior outsider hitter Taylor Arizobal are also veterans who are expected to provide leadership and contribute heavily this season.

Next up, Arizona is set for its home opener in the newly renovated McKale Center and will host Alabama State, Loyola Chicago and Cal State Northridge in the Arizona Invitational on Sept. 6-7.

Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17


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