TUCSON, Ariz. -- For the first time since November 2019, Arizona Volleyball competed with a team other than itself.
With less than a week remaining until Arizona officially opens the 2020-21 season, the Wildcats hosted New Mexico State in an exhibition match at McKale Center. The two-time defending WAC champion Aggies defeated the Wildcats, in five sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 14-25, 25-19) in the match.
Arizona head coach Dave Rubio used the match to try out different lineups in all five sets, playing both first-year setters -- freshman Emery Herman and senior transfer Akia Warrior -- for extended periods of time. Arizona was without two outside hitters due to health protocols as well.
You can read more about Saturday’s scrimmage over at ArizonaWildcats.com.
Ironwood Ridge volleyball product Katie Birtcil ('18) made her return to Tucson with the Aggies.
The sophomore had eight kills on 21 attempts.
She saw limited action as a freshman in 2019, playing in 23 sets and posting 15 kills.
Birtcil was a member of the Nighthawks Conference 5A Southern Region championship teams in 2017 and 2018.
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Sahuaro volleyball grad Brielle Sterns ('17) is no longer with the New Mexico State program.
Sterns suffered through three injury-riddled seasons in Las Cruces.
She played in 15 matches in 2017 before an ankle injury ended her freshman season.
Sterns' entire sophomore campaign was shuttered in 2018 due to a bad shoulder and she also did not appear in any matches in 2019.
She tells News 4 Tucson she hopes to be back playing at a Power 5 school in the Fall.
Players from all Pac-12 Conference teams will wear masks during match-play this season.
UA will play a 22-match conference-only season with weekend action set to be held at single site locations.
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David Kelly contributed to this story.