No. 16 Arizona set to host Arizona Invitational

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Tyler Baker | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona volleyball players Rachel Rhoades (8) and Kalei Mau (10) jump for a block against USC on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Mau, now a junior, has returned for the 2015-2016 season.

After winning all three of their games at the SMU Invite in Dallas last weekend, the Wildcats will go into their first three home games of the season in McKale Center with a lot of momentum and confidence. 

In the Arizona Invitational, Arizona will play South Dakota on Friday at 6 p.m., Florida A&M on Saturday at 10 a.m., and Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 7 p.m.

 The weekend looks to be a great opportunity for the Wildcats to start off their season 6-0.

Junior Laura Lawson looks forward to being back in front of the home crowd and strives for the team to continue on from where they left off in Dallas. 

“We can’t wait to get back in front everyone: the band, the fans,” Lawson said. “The atmosphere here is so great that it is just special playing here. We always can’t wait to get back.”

Lawson hopes her team will continue to fight like it did in Dallas and to keep playing tough in the times when things do not seem to be going well. 

One specific moment Lawson mentioned was when her team was down 23-18 against SMU in the third game and ultimately came back to win. 

Lawson said she used the leadership skills she gained from playing with Team USA over the summer to encourage and bring the team together, and the team responded by making several clutch blocks and digs to come back and win the game and then the match.

Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio showed his satisfaction at starting the season off 3-0, but still sees lots of room for improvements before getting into Pac-12 Conference play in three weeks. Rubio said his team needs improvement in its rotations and also thinks his outside hitters have room for improvement and growth.

Though South Dakota, Northridge and Florida A&M do not have the best records, Rubio does not think they are reflective of how good the teams are because they all played in highly competitive tournaments last weekend. He knows that Northridge and South Dakota are well-coached teams and that Florida A&M will be a very physical team.

“I think each one of those teams are going to present its own problems for us,” Rubio said. “But I still think it’s more about what we do on our side of the net than what the other team does on their side.”

Rubio, like Lawson, looks forward to being in front of the home fans for the first time this season. He’s interested to see how his players will handle being back home and wants his team to be able to play as well as they did on the road in Dallas.

“We’re hoping for a big crowd on Friday night and Saturday night,” Rubio said. “My hope is that we get a lot of people here cheering us on this weekend.”


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