Julia Patterson has excelled as Arizona volleyball’s setter for the last two seasons, but an injury during her sophomore season demonstrated just how important it is to have quality depth at a position that coach Dave Rubio calls the most important one on the court.
The Wildcats added that depth Wednesday with the signing of Mahina “Hina” Pua’a, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College.
Pua’a was selected First-Team NJCAA All-American for the 2018 season, when she helped the Iowa Western Reivers to third place at the NJCAA Tournament. She was selected all-conference in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference both her freshman and sophomore seasons, when she led the NJCAA in assists per set.
Arizona fans, please help us welcome the newest member of the Wildcats, 2018 first-team NJCAA All-American and 2017 and 2018 NJCAA assists/set leader ' !— Arizona Volleyball (@ArizonaVBall) April 24, 2019
» https://t.co/Tloq53r9rD pic.twitter.com/yQUj1whz6l
Over her two seasons at Iowa Western, the Punahou High School (Honolulu, HI) product averaged 11.29 assists per set. She reached a high of 11.41 her sophomore season. She added 2.03 digs and .36 kills per set, but was a low-percentage attacker with a .132 career hitting percentage.
She will join Patterson and sophomore-to-be Julia Handy as the three setters on the team. For the last two seasons, Mackenzie Hernandez ran the scout team and backed up Patterson. With Hernandez graduating, Pua’a and Handy will compete to fill that role in the fall.
Pua’a is the second member of her family on the team. Her sister Emi, a senior defensive specialist/libero, is preparing for her second year at Arizona. Like her sister, Hina will have two years to play at Arizona and will be eligible to play immediately.
The Wildcats went 22-11 in 2018, falling to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.