Rubio shows he’s ready to take Arizona Volleyball Dancing again soon

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 28: Arizona Wildcats mascot, 'Wilbur' waves a flag before the start of the college basketball game against the Oregon Ducks at McKale Center on January 28, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 28: Arizona Wildcats mascot, 'Wilbur' waves a flag before the start of the college basketball game against the Oregon Ducks at McKale Center on January 28, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Bolstered by back-to-back strong recruiting classes, Dave Rubio has the Arizona Volleyball program trending towards seriously contending in the postseason!

Looking to build off of a 15-17 season in 2019, the Arizona Volleyball team looks primed to truly start their trek up the Pac-12 Conference standings in 2021.

In a conference that regularly boasts four or more teams in the NCAA Rankings regularly, and despite the Wildcats finishing just 5-15 in Pac-12 play last year, this team may not be as far off from reaching the upper echelons of the Conference.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

With a 1-5 record in matches that went the full five sets (meaning the fifth set is essentially a coin flip), signs are there that the record could have easily been a bit better than what it was. One thing to look at as a Pac-12 team, 20 wins is typically the first benchmark for NCAA consideration with a respectable conference record.

So, if those five-set losses turned into wins, Arizona would have been knocking on the door for tournament consideration, and that’s without growth and development of the current players, or future recruiting classes.

Another positive sign for the Wildcats Volleyball program from 2019 was going into Kansas and quite literally sweeping the Kansas Invitational, and at the same time positing great results against Big 12 and ACC competition.

Add in the fact that they were able to steal a set the week before in a loss against then No. 2 Nebraska at the SDSU Invitational, and beating another Big 12 foe in West Virginia, it shows that they are comfortably contending with other solid Power-Five conference teams.

Now while wins over Kansas, West Virginia, and Syracuse do not look necessarily as good as they would in Basketball, they do achieve notoriety in some rich recruiting areas of the country, which can only help Arizona Volleyball in the future.

New York State and the Pittsburgh area conveniently about 75 miles north of West Virginia University are two of the larger hotbeds in the northeast, regularly showcased in the NCAA Tournament with perennial National Championship contender Penn State, as well as in recent years with Pitt.

The win against a team like Kansas also helps in the heartland states. While prospective Student-Athletes may have their dream power five schools, who wouldn’t rather spend the Fall and Winter months in Tucson if they see that the program is similar in caliber to that of those closer schools.

Armed with the Pac-12’s best, and seventh-best recruiting class nationally entering the 2020 (now spring 2021) season, the Wildcats are pushing the envelope to join the Pac-12 Elite sooner rather than later.

2020 Recruiting class brings some Midwest flavor to Tucson

With six players in his 2020 recruiting class, head coach Dave Rubio went into the heart of Big 10 Country to secure four recruits for his class. And all six could have a big hand in shaping the 2021 “Fall season” for the Wildcats on their quest for a potential NCAA Tournament berth.

Starting in Chanhassen, Minnesota we have a Prep Volleyball Defensive Dandie in Madison Ellman who will look to follow in the footsteps of former Wildcat and fellow Minnesota native Laura Larson.

She could also help the Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. As a sound and controlled defensive player, Ellman could see some early playing time during her Wildcat career, before transitioning over to Libero and backcourt floor general, which is where I see as her likely landing spot when she gets fully settled in Tucson.

Next is Ava Francis who heads to Tucson as a two-time Conference Player of the Year, District Player of the Year, two-time first-team All-Ohioan Honoree, Prep Volleyball Phenom, and Top 100 Senior Aces Honoree. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget she is an AVCA All-American Honorable Mention Honoree as well.

With that said, I guess you could say it is safe to say that Ava is coming to the Wildcats looking to make a statement early on, especially with all the hype she has. I can see Francis becoming a true six-rotation player pretty early on in her career and becoming a cornerstone of the Wildcat attack for years to come.

Staying in Ohio we also have Alayna Johnson who comes to the Wildcats as a bit more of an unknown, as there is just not a whole lot of video on her. The one thing that stands out about Alayna is her athleticism and natural awareness. There is a lot for Rubio to work with to be able to mold her into a potentially high-level contributor for the Wildcats.

Moving over to the Windy City, we find setter/defensive specialist Ava Tortorello, who is ranked No. 115 in Prep Volleyball’s National Recruiting Rankings. Ava is also a member of the AVCA All-America Honorable Mention squad and is also a member of the USA Volleyball High-Performance Continental Team.

Depending on how Coach Rubio decides to deploy her, she’s likely to make a big impact for the Wildcats over the next four years as either a setter or libero in the program.

Technically sound athletes are the name of the game when it comes to defense, and the Wildcats have three in this recruiting class with the addition of Peoria, AZ native Haven Wray.

A 2019 AAU All-Star All-Tournament Team member and one of the top players in her district, region, and conference Haven’s signing is arguably the biggest win in this class as not only do they keep one of Arizona’s best at home, but they also keep her from that school in Phoenix.

Haven looks to be one the glue-type players of this class, who may not have all the accolades of the others in the class, but she can be a steadying force for the team, as even when she looks out of a play, she can somehow come up with the spectacular save that leads to points.

To round out the 2020 recruiting class, we head to Torrance, CA where we find two-time USA Volleyball National Champion and USA Volleyball National Championship Most Valuable Player Jennifer Wroblicky. Jennifer joins the Wildcats from what is widely recognized as one of the top club volleyball programs in the country in Mizuno Long Beach. A likely plug-and-play middle blocker for the Wildcats, Wroblicky can potentially be an elite force almost immediately.

More. On Arizona Volleyball. light

This is a class to be proud of for sure Wildcat fans as we look go get back to dancing in the NCAA Tournament! As always, Bear Down Arizona!