Sophomore defensive specialist Ronni Lewis is from San Jose, Calif. and her breakout season is underway.
“When I’m in the zone, I feel like everything slows down for me,” Lewis said. “When the hitter is about to hit, I feel like I see things a lot slower.”
In her freshman season as a Wildcat, Lewis recorded 61 digs in 29 matches, not nearly as many as this season.
“My confidence has gone up since last season,” Lewis said.
Arizona volleyball (14-13, 6-10 Pac-12) split matches last weekend in Oregon against the Beavers and the Ducks. Lewis, a defensive specialist, shared playing time as the team’s libero with junior veteran Candace Nicholson.
“They’re two complete opposites on the court but they’re both so good at what they do,” junior setter Chanel Brown said.
Lewis began the season as a defensive specialist but earned the starting libero position a couple of weeks ago when Nicholson got sick.
“Candace, as a result, I think, has really stepped up her game,” head coach Dave Rubio said. “She knows that the best player is going to play. They both want what’s best for the team. They’re both terrific defenders.”
Lewis recorded a then career-high 20 digs in her first start as a libero in an upset of UCLA. She followed with another solid performance against No. 6 USC with 15 digs.
“Against the LA schools, my confidence just went skyrocketing because we played well as a team, and personally I think I played really well,” Lewis said.
During the Oregon State game, Lewis’ play stayed consistent, as she led the team’s defense with a new career high of 21 digs.
“The thing about Ronni is that she has this competitive fire and is always working hard,” Brown said. “She really brings the ‘lets play for each other’ emphasis on the court.”
During the past two weeks, Rubio said Lewis has been a pleasant surprise and brings friendly competition to arguably the most important position on the court.
“I definitely feel like I’m striving to be the starting libero on this team,” Lewis said. “I hope that Candace has the same aspirations as me. I hope all the players are striving for a starting spot.”