Sand volleyball hosts New Mexico

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Jordan Glenn | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona sand volleyball player Madi Kingdon (45) sets up for a dig during Arizona's 5-0 win against Cal State Northridge at Jimenez Field on March 28. Kingdon and the Wildcats face New Mexico this weekend at home.

Arizona sand volleyball will hit the sand again this weekend as it hosts the New Mexico Lobos for two matches on Saturday and Sunday.

After last weekend’s loss to Nebraska in the Wildcat Spring Challenge, which was a first for the Wildcats this season, Arizona coach Steve Walker focused practice on getting better at what he calls the principles.

“Coming off the weekend, there were some things that we just didn’t do very well, certain skills.” Walker said. “I didn’t think our setting or our approaches offensively to either attack or place the ball were as crisp or as good as they’ve been in the past. So those have been some points of emphasis this week.”

Setting has been an emphasis for the Wildcats the entire season thus far. With so many athletes transferring from indoor volleyball to sand volleyball, they have to get used to doing everything on the sand versus having a more specific role as they are used to for indoor.

“You have to pass, you have to hit, you have to be able to set, and in indoor it’s more focused on, like, your one position,” Arizona indoor and sand volleyball player Taylor Arizobal said. “I was always hitting and passing, and I obviously never had to really worry about setting, so it’s a little different.”

Another area that the Wildcats struggled with against Nebraska was the Cornhuskers’ ability to block. Madi Kingdon said they were just not used to the size of block that Nebraska put up.

When asked if that was an area of focus in practice this week, Walker said they don’t anticipate seeing that kind of challenge against their opponents in the weeks to come.

Suffering the first loss of a season after going undefeated for weeks is a tough blow for any team. The Wildcats responded by taking it as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and improve their game.

“I think it prepared us a lot,” Kingdon said. “This was probably the best team we’ve played so far, so I think it’s showed us that we need to elevate our game a little bit, and there are still little things that we need to work on.”

New Mexico is in its first year as a program and is 1-6 so far this season. The Wildcats went 8-12 in their first year as a program last season.

Arizona still holds the No. 10 rank in the AVCA sand volleyball poll and has its sights set on postseason play. The next step in the Wildcats’ season is to take down the Lobos this weekend at the Sand Volleyball Courts at Jimenez Field, which are more informally referred to as “bear down beach.”

The teams will face off at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then again at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

As always, admission to all home games is free of charge. Blankets or lawn chairs are also recommended since there is no formal seating at the courts.

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