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Dave Rubio retires after 31 years leading Arizona volleyball

arizona-volleyball-dave-rubio-retires-31-years Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Arizona will be looking for a new volleyball coach for the first time in 31 years. Arizona Athletics and head coach Dave Rubio announced his retirement on Tuesday morning after over three decades leading the program and 36 years as a head coach. He was the winningest coach in Arizona history and the winningest active coach in Pac-12 volleyball.

“I want to thank Dave for his outstanding leadership of our volleyball program for 31 seasons,” said Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke in the school’s press release. “His coaching career put him among the winningest volleyball coaches in NCAA and Pac-12 Conference history while leaving a tremendous legacy here at Arizona. His tenure as leader of Arizona Volleyball puts him among the greats of the sport and garners respect from his peers across the country and around the globe. Dave guided generations of student-athletes to become academic, athletic and life champions. He is a true Wildcat and an outstanding ambassador for the University of Arizona and the Southern Arizona community, a person of class and integrity, and we all wish him the best in retirement.”

Rubio came to a program that didn’t win a single conference match the season before his arrival. He led it to 570 victories, 20 NCAA appearances, eight Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights, and one Final Four appearance.

“After 31 seasons as the head volleyball coach at the University of Arizona, it is time for me to retire,” Rubio said in the release. “I would like to thank Cedric Dempsey and Rocky LaRose for giving me the initial opportunity to be the head coach in 1992. I would also like to thank Jim Livengood, Greg Byrne, and Dave Heeke for their belief in me throughout my time at Arizona. I want to personally thank all the student-athletes who have contributed to our program. It has been a privilege to coach the players who chose to attend and compete at Arizona.”

Rubio went on to thank associate head coach Rita Stubbs, who has been with him as a coach or player for 20 years, athletic trainer Emily Johnson who has been with him for over 15 years, and his current supervisor, Suzy Mason.

Rubio was the second Pac-12 volleyball coach to reach 500 wins and ends his career as the second-winningest coach in Pac-12 history. He is also one of six Arizona coaches to win at least 500 competitions over their time with the university. It was always his nature to dismiss such career marks, saying that if a coach stayed one place long enough, he was bound to reach them.

Prior to Arizona, Rubio coached at Cal State Bakersfield where he took the team to two Division II Final Fours and won the 1989 National Championship.

Arizona’s search for the next coach is underway.

The Wildcats have a verbal commitment from Prep Volleyball’s No. 1 player in 2024, Carlie Cisneros.