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Rubio named coach of the year

KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Head women's volleyball coach Dave Rubio congratulates his team after a point earlier this season during a game in McKale center. ASICS/Volleyball Magazine named Rubio their Coach of the Year for 2001.

By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday Jan. 10, 2002

The Arizona women's volleyball program finished the season as the only team in school history to reach the Final Four.

Its continued surge to the top of collegiate volleyball continued as head coach David Rubio was named the 2001 ASICS/Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year.

Rubio led the No. 4 Wildcats to a 25-5 record this season, but the road to prominence has been a long one for Rubio.

Ten years ago, the UA women's volleyball team was sitting at the bottom of the Pacific 10 Conference.

In order to try to improve the program, Arizona hired Rubio, who developed one of the nation's best Division II programs at Cal State Bakersfield.

At Bakersfield, he was named ASICS Tiger Coach of the Year twice.

In 1992, Rubio left Bakersfield in order to coach at the Division I level.

Rubio relished the mission of turning around an Arizona team that went winless in the Pac-10 conference play the year before he was hired.

Gradually, Rubio improved UA's volleyball program, but he still faced the challenge of recruiting against other top Pac-10 schools: No.1 Stanford, No. 5 Southern Cal and No. 9 UCLA.

Rubio finally won the recruiting battle in 1998 when he recruited senior setter Dana Burkholder, who was the nation's top high school setter.

Burkholder went on to win the 2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year as well as being named an All-American twice during her four-year career at Arizona.

Besides Burkholder, Rubio has garnered success at Arizona by filling his team with players who were not recruited by other top programs.

"It is nice to know that people realize what Dave has done at Arizona," associate head coach Charita Johnson said. "People realize that besides Dana, Dave has built the program around kids who were not highly recruited out of high school. He has taken these players and turned them into great ones. It is just remarkable what he has accomplished."

Rubio said that being named coach of the year is a great honor and another step toward the top for the Arizona volleyball program.

"It's a great honor," Rubio said. "This honor speaks of all of the hard work everyone has put into the program over the years."

The coach of the year is chosen by other college coaches around the country, which Rubio said adds to the honor.

Johnson said she was surprised that Rubio was honored, due to Arizona not winning the national championship.

Stanford head coach John Dunning won the NCAA Championship this season in his first year at the helm of the Cardinal volleyball program.

Dunning was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, but Johnson said that the trials and tribulations that Rubio and the Arizona program have faced to reach an elite status were taken into consideration.

"Usually the coach who wins the whole thing or has won the award before is honored," Johnson said. "It is nice to know that other coaches realize the long road Dave has taken to get to the top. It is a blessing that everyone realized that."

Rubio has amassed a career 317-162 career coaching record to go with three coach of the year honors.

Rubio has recruited and coached three All-Americans, the 2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year, 15 All-Pac-10 performers, six All-Pac-10 freshman players and nine academic all-conference athletes in his 10 years at Arizona.

Kathleen LaRose Sr., Arizona associate director of sports programs, said that it is an honor for the UA athletic program to be recognized nationally.

"Everyone here at Arizona knows what a type of coach he is," LaRose said. "The team had a great year making it to the school's first-ever Final Four, and he is the person responsible for that. From a national perspective, it is a great honor. It is nice that fellow coaches realize the skills needed to take a team to the Final Four."


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