Campus Guide '17: Dave Rubio sets up volleyball for another season

Kyle Hansen | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio instructs his players during Arizona's 3-0 win against Alabama State University in McKale Center on Sept. 5, 2014. Rubio’s teams have gone to the NCAA tournament 19 times in his 25 years heading the program.

For years, the Wildcat volleyball program toiled in futility, often dwelling at the bottom of the conference standings. However, shortly after head coach Dave Rubio arrived, the program made a stunning turnaround. Rubio’s teams have gone to the NCAA tournament 19 times in his 25 years heading the program.

While Rubio has had a largely successful run, not every year has been ideal. He admitted that he was lucky to have weathered the storm when things weren’t going the right way. The team’s emergence through those tough times is due in part to the coach’s mindset.

“[You] try and weather the downturns and disappointments of when you’re not playing well,” he said, “and then when you’re winning … understand that there is still some work to do.” The other reason they’ve succeeded? Rubio credits the women on the floor for making winning possible.

That’s an important insight for a coach who will be leading a young team this year after losing five starters. While this upcoming season may be a transition year for the Wildcats, don’t count them out.

Rubio says he likes the athleticism and enthusiasm of the young team, so he’s still optimistic about the possibilities. And competing is not just about making the NCAA tournament; it’s about growth.

“You kind of focus on the process,” Rubio said regarding goals for the season. While competition is often about results and achievements, the journey itself is also valuable. Watching the players learn and grow as they play is rewarding for him.

Rubio’s success stems from his love for the game. He coaches club teams during the summer and admitted that even if he were to retire from NCAA volleyball, he would still coach those club teams. But what keeps him going?

“I still really enjoy being in the gym with my players,” he said. “That is the greatest part of coaching for me. The interaction on a day-to-day basis I have with my players”.

The volleyball team kicks off their season on August 26 at the Luv Invitational in Nashville against East Tennessee State. They play their first home game on September 1 against Eastern Kentucky in the Cactus Classic. 

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