Venne 'surpassing expectations' after two years off court

By Ron Parsons

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Three years ago, Arizona women's volleyball coach Dave Rubio struck gold on a recruiting trip through California.

No, he didn't get rich off the actual stuff. But in 6-foot-1-inch middle blocker Stephanie Venne, he found something just as valuable.

Venne, a sophomore, has become an integral part of the Arizona offense. She leads the team in service aces with 28 and hitting percentage at .345, and is third in kills with 130. She also has recorded 10 solo blocks for a team-leading 1.29 per-game average.

"She's just surpassed everybody's expectations," Rubio said. "She's an absolutely great success story."

In 1992, Rubio had just taken over a declining Arizona program and was looking for players to fill out his first-ever recruiting class. After about a week on the road, Rubio said he was standing at a pay phone on the corner of Pico Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles when a high school coach he knew first dropped Venne's name.

"Basically, we needed some bodies," he said. Rubio saw Venne practice once and was impressed enough with her ability to offer her a scholarship.

Venne, from La Verne, Calif., was not heavily recruited. She graduated with honors from high school and was accepted into Stanford and Cornell based on academics.

But she wanted to play Pacific 10 Conference volleyball on scholarship, and was pleased when Rubio offered her a chance to become a Wildcat.

"I just had a lot of confidence in Dave as a coach, and I knew (Arizona) was an up-and-coming program," she said.

Venne's first two years as

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