Rubio continues to lead Arizona volleyball program at top level

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Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio, left, draws up plans with his team while playing Oregon on Sunday, Sept. 27 in McKale Center. Rubio is 13-7, 3-5 Pac-12 Conference in his 24th season with the Wildcats.

Legendary basketball coach Lute Olson, who led the Arizona basketball program for 24 seasons, immediately comes to mind when people think of coaches who were consistently successful for a long period of time at the UA.

Few may know Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio has matched that total, as he is in the middle of his 24th season coaching the Wildcats. Year after year, he continues to produce ranked teams that compete for Pac-12 Conference championships and national championships.

“Certainly longevity is something to be proud of, especially in a conference as competitive as the Pac-10 and Pac-12 has been throughout the years I’ve been here,” Rubio said.

Being able to consistently recruit good players, bring in good assistants and have support from the administration are things Rubio said have been keys to his success.

“I’ve been very fortunate throughout the years,” Rubio said. “I’ve had some really good players and really good people that have come to the program and have made an impact.”

Volleyball has always been an important part of Rubio’s life. He played the game while growing up, during a time when volleyball was not very popular for men or women. Rubio described himself as just an average player, but credits his experiences in volleyball for helping him become who he is today.

Rubio did not always coach like he does today. He says he has his marriage and kids to thank for the change in his coaching style. Once a tough and aggressive coach, Rubio considers himself to be much softer today than he once was.

“[The season I got married and started having kids] was the biggest season that I changed from being verbally tough on kids, and now I’m not really verbally tough on kids at all,” Rubio said. “I’m much more of a manager. I’m much more willing to pull kids aside and talk to them privately and not make a scene at practice.”

Rubio says it is important for him to be able to individually teach each of his players and to continuously encourage them to improve.

When looking back on his most memorable moments as coach of UA volleyball, Rubio remembers the 2001 NCAA Tournament, when the Wildcats made it to the Final Four and beat USC in five sets in the Elite Eight. He also mentioned the team this year and last year as being some of the most memorable teams he’s coached.

Rubio has accomplished much in his 24 years as coach of the Wildcats, but he still has more work to do to reach all of his goals.

“I’m driven to win a national championship,” Rubio said. “We’re really working towards that every day. It’s a process to get there, but I feel like we’re getting closer every year. Our goal will always be to win a national championship.”


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