Volleyball season to kick off in Hawaii on Friday

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Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona Volleyball facing off against Washington State on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. The Wildcats begin the season Aug. 26 against Kansas State University in Honolulu.

The UA women’s volleyball team is set to begin its season Friday, when they face Kansas State University at the Wahine Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The team held its annual Red-Blue game on Aug. 20, but Kalei Mau did not participate due to an injury. The Red and Blue teams tied two sets a piece in a four set scrimmage. The annual scrimmage signals the end of their two-week fall training camp.

This year’s squad has only six upperclassmen on the roster. The team is loaded with youth, but they are led by seniors Penina Snuka, senior Kalei Mau and sophomore Tyler Spriggs.

As a junior, Snuka was an honorable mention American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American for the second straight year. She is one of four players in Arizona history to earn multiple All-American honors.

Snuka led the Pac-12 Conference last year with 22 double-doubles, making it the third consecutive year she has done so. She also led the Pac-12 in assists with 1,349, which was her career high and the seventh-best single season total in Arizona history.

As a junior, Kalei Mau finished third in the Pac-12 and 23rd in the country with 4.33 kills per set. She was second on the team with 11 double doubles and tied for 10th in the Pac-12.

Mau was also a first team all Pac-12 player and a Pac-12 defensive player of the week.

As a freshman, Spriggs was a Pac-12 All-Freshman performer, and finished second on the team with 2.63 kills per set.

She also led the team with 14 kills. Spriggs’ 14 double-digit kills were the most by a freshman since 2011.

The team is led by Dave Rubio, who is entering his 25th season as head coach of the program.

During his career, Rubio has led the Wildcats to 18 NCAA tournament appearances, seven Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eights and one Final Four.

Last year, the women’s volleyball team finished 19-14 overall and qualified for the NCAA tournament. They lost to Western Kentucky in the first round 3-0.

The women’s volleyball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament three years in a row and looks to keep that streak alive this season.

This will be a difficult task, as the Pac-12 currently has four teams ranked in the top 25. In the Pac-12, Arizona is predicted to finish in sixth place, rounding out the top half of the conference.

The Wildcats will face seven top-25 teams this season, including five of the top-10 teams in the country.

In 2015, USC and Washington were named co-champions of the Pac-12. This was only the fourth time in Pac-12 history co-champions were named.

USC returns AVCA National Coach of the Year Mick Haley, but faces the tough prospect of having to replace AVCA National player of the year Samantha Bricio.

Stanford was selected as the pre-season Pac-12 favorite because they return four starters from last year, including AVCA National Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson.

With a loaded conference and a team with several talented players, the Arizona Wildcats are ready to kick off the 2016 season.


Follow Fernando Galvan on Twitter.



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