TUCSON - The Arizona volleyball team concluded its sixth team practice, as the team enjoyed an afternoon practice inside Richard Jefferson Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Below are some post-practice thoughts from head coach Dave Rubio.
With a few practices behind you, what's your assesment of the team so far?
"I like the direction we're going. We've had some good practices under our belt; we've had a few that have been average or mediocre. Overall, I'm pleased with the development of the younger players. We're trying to get the system in place and, really, that's one of the most difficult parts of it is that everyone's thinking so much that we haven't had an opportunity to play without thought. That will come with time; we have a lot of time here. We're making progress. We're not where we need to be and we're not close to taht but at least we're working hard. Today was better than it was yesterday. I thought we ended practice better today than we did yesterday. I was not happy yesterday, but today was better."
Who are some of the newcomers that stand out?
"We have some interesting newcomers because I think we have some freshmen that are good. I think that Jade Turner's been really good. Brooke Dougherty has done a nice job of coming in and knowing her role and working hard. Kalei (Mau), a transfer coming in, along with Whitney Hunt, both those kids have added a lot. Brianna Houghton as well, she's a freshman who's done a nice job. We have an older group and we need to play like an older group. Today's a day that we did that, yesterday we didn't do that. So, we're going to end on a good note and tomorrow's another day to get better."
What returning player has shown the most improvement so far?
"I certainly like what Ashley Harris has done. She's showing some things that I'd hoped she would be showing. Her and McKenzie (Jacobson) are the two bigger kids on the team that were on a two-year timeline for me and they're showing some real bright spots. I think seniors have been up and down. I have really high expectations and I don't cut those guys any slack. They've been good, but I think they need to be better."
What are you most pleased with at this point with the team?
"They've been working hard without complaint. I've been pushing them pretty hard physically. I'm taking the gloves off in a sense, not in a negative way, but my expectations are so high and they need to be because the conference is so good. I like how they're handling the pressure that I'm putting on them and the demands that I'm putting on them."
After losing four-year libero and UA all-time digs leader Candace Nicholson, who do you see as a potential replacement?
"I like our little people. The little people are doing a good job. It's been up and down with those guys, there's a lot of pressure with the stats on the board every day and they're looking at those. There are external pressures that they have to deal with along with their own frustrations and competitiveness that they have within themselves. But I'm happy with them. We have a good group and we just need to continue to get a little more precise with our passing."