Arizona head volleyball coach Dave Rubio has stressed all season how important effective practices are to his team’s ability to succeed on the court. It wasn’t until well into the season that he said his team was finally on the right track. The Wildcats are currently 13-12 overall and 5-9 in the Pac-12.
There are six conference games and about two weeks left in the season, and Arizona will be on the road for four of those games prior to the start of the NCAA tournament.
“It feels good to be out there and more confident with everyone,” sophomore middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said.
Last week was the first time the team could afford a solid week of practices.
“Everything we’ve been doing in practice has transitioned into games,” sophomore libero Ronni Lewis said. “I want to win every game. I want to do everything I can to make my hitters and the players around me to play better every game.”
Rubio said it was the best week of practice his team’s had and the first time he saw his squad really play for each other.
“We’ve been working so hard in the last several weeks to try to get more offense in our middles,” Rubio said. “We had a pretty good rhythm. We’ve been working on it.”
This contributed to Arizona’s first season win against a ranked team, No. 6 UCLA, last weekend.
The next two weeks are projected to be a little bit easier than the opening weeks, when the Wildcats had matches against Washington, Stanford, USC and UCLA, all within about two weeks.
All four teams were ranked in the top 10 then and now sit in the top eight, along with Oregon.
Oregon is the only remaining ranked team Arizona will face for the conference season. Oregon State, Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Arizona State are teams the squad said are beatable.
“Regardless of who’s wearing the uniform, at what level or at what age, the team that wins is the team that executes better,” Rubio said.
The Wildcats have already beaten the remaining unranked opponents once this season, with the exception of Washington State, who the Wildcats have not faced yet.
“It makes it that much greater for us to win, because the process has not been easy,” Rubio said.