Arizona beach volleyball begins season ranked in top 25

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Madeleine Viceconte | The Daily Wildcat Arizona’s Kacey Nady (21) dives to reach the ball during the Arizona-Utah beach volleyball game at Bear Down Beach, in Tucson Ariz. on Friday April 20.

The Arizona Wildcats will open up another season of beach volleyball with a preseason ranking of No. 13, according to DiG Magazine, after coming off a 19-10 regular season record in 2018. The squad is led by sixth-year head coach Steve Walker, accompanied by a roster that includes nine returning players, four freshmen and two graduate transfers. 

The Wildcats’ offense is projected to be led by junior Natalie Anselmo. She is entering the season after posting an individual record of 20-12. 

The roster is also highlighted by senior Jordan Abalos, who was forced to medical redshirt after missing the 2018 season due to injury. 

A duo to keep your eyes on this year is Jonny Baham and Brooke Burling. After playing 23 of their 32 matches together with a record of 17-6, the returning pair look to use their chemistry and prove themselves as the anchor of the Sand Cats’ roster.

Arizona’s talented freshmen class is headlined by Sarah Blacker, who is an AAU Junior Olympic silver medalist.

Dana Parker owns her high school record for career kills (1,224), kills in a season (532), career digs (1,018) and digs in a single season (477). 

Jasmine Safar was a member of the World Championship Canadian U19 National Team, and Georgia Kobel is is a two-time high school state champion from Manhattan Beach, Calif.

An important matchup for Arizona will be hosting the three-time national champion USC Trojans on March 2. USC finished No. 5 overall last year after being taken down in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They will begin the year ranked No. 2 overall, according to DiG Magazine. 

The Wildcats will then be at home against Stanford on March 3. The Cardinal is among the Pac-12’s top teams, coming into the season ranked No. 10.  

The team’s first true road game will be in Tallahassee, Fla., against Florida State on March 22. FSU finished as the NCAA Tournament runner-up after falling to the UCLA Bruins in the 2018 championship match.  

The weekend of April 6 will be packed with action, as the Wildcats will travel to Tempe to face Cal Poly and their in-state rival ASU. Cal Poly will certainly be the tougher of the two matchups, as it is coming out of 2018 with a 27-7 record and a preseason ranking of No. 5.   

The first opportunity for the ‘Cats to showcase their team’s talent will be Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. for the team’s annual Red-Blue game at Bear Down Beach. The regular season will then begin at home on Feb. 22, when Arizona will host Colorado Mesa at 12:30 p.m.


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