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Arizona volleyball’s Sofia Maldonado Diaz named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year

Middle blocker Merle Weidt also honored

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Eighteen seasons ago, the best volleyball player to ever don an Arizona uniform was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. On Wednesday, the league announced that the Wildcats finally have another top young star to follow in the footsteps of Kim Glass. Sofia Maldonado Diaz was named the conference’s top freshman as well as being voted to the All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Freshman teams.

Maldonado Diaz wasn’t the only Wildcat honored by the voters. Junior middle blocker Merle Weidt, who transferred in from Rutgers in the offseason, was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

Maldonado Diaz led the Wildcats in kills per set by over a full point with 3.63 k/s. She also led the team and was third in the Pac-12 in aces per set with 0.37. Her 28 total service aces were 10 more than the next highest on the team.

The 3.63 k/s were fifth in the conference and tops by a freshman. Her 272 total kills were fourth in the league.

Weidt transferred with the hopes of finding a better cultural fit, but when the season started, she was not in the starting lineup. After an injury to China Rai Crouch, Weidt took over as a starter and showed what she could do.

Weidt had 1.60 k/s on a team-high .424 hitting percentage. She and fellow middle blocker Zyonna Fellows tied with 0.81 blocks per set for the team high, although Fellows did it over more sets. Those numbers ranked 19th and 20th in the Pac-12. Weidt’s 42 total blocks were second on the team behind Fellows.

Weidt was just shy of the number of attacks needed to qualify her hitting percentage, but it would have been the highest in the Pac-12.

The team ended the shortened season 10-11, all in Pac-12 play. They finished sixth in the standings while playing the second most matches in the conference. The Wildcats only missed one match, a cancellation by USC due to too few available players.