Shelton finding her way
It’s game day in McKale Center, and the crowd is energized, cheering on the Wildcats volleyball team. Elizabeth Shelton sends another kill across the net and soaks in the hype as her teammates gather around her to give high fives.
Shelton has come a long way since her days as a redshirt freshman. Last season she appeared in 28 matches and started in 20. She had 187 kills total for the season and 61 blocks, ranking her second on the team in blocks, according to Arizona Athletics.
The now-sophomore chose to play volleyball for Arizona because of the tight-knit community and family atmosphere and said she felt this especially when those around her were always checking in on each other.
As an outside hitter this season, Shelton is driven to improve in all areas of her skills but is focused specifically on blocking.
“I am focusing on one thing at a time, and right now it’s blocking, which is fine now, but I am not trying to focus on too much at once,” Shelton said.
Head coach Dave Rubio plans practices tailored to Shelton.
“A lot of my practices are geared for Liz and to try to make her a better volleyball player, a more complete player,” Rubio said.
According to Arizona volleyball statistics, Shelton has currently racked up a total of 34 blocks this season, the second highest amount behind Devyn Cross, who has 49.
Rubio is working with Shelton to help improve her volleyball techniques and said she has been improving her blocks.
“She is a physically gifted young lady; she can really jump well and be explosive, and be very physical,” Rubio said.
When it comes to coaching Shelton, Rubio said her outlook on volleyball is different from other players, which prompts him to try different coaching techniques.
“She looks at the world differently and she looks at volleyball differently … the buttons that I need to push for her might be a little more different [from other players’], so I am always trying to figure out which buttons I need to push to make a difference for her,” Rubio said.
Shelton noted the person she looks up to most to on the team is Kendra Dahlke, a senior and one of the team’s leaders.
Dahlke, an outside hitter, and Shelton work well on the court together. Dahlke said Shelton works hard and has great communication skills. Dahlke also said Shelton is encouraging and always has something positive to contribute to the team.
“She is awesome to play with. She’s a lot of fun; her celebrations on the court when we get a point in the game is the best thing,” Dahlke said.
Dahlke agreed with her coach that Shelton has a unique perspective on the world and said that it’s beneficial for the team.
“She really takes everything super literally, which is not a bad thing at all. Everything for her has to be exact; some people are like ‘oh that’s kind of right,’ but she has to have it exactly right all the time, which is awesome as a volleyball player,” Dahlke said.
After college, Shelton said she will play volleyball if the opportunity arises, but if not, she would like to focus on her career in science. Shelton is currently a neuroscience major.
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