Whirlwind recruiting brings Puk Stubbe to Arizona volleyball


Arizona Head Coach Dave rubio was a bit deadlocked. He had planned China Rai crouching to return to its original position in the opposite this year. Then she decided she needed to take a year off to fully recover from the injuries suffered last season. Enter a helping hand from a former Pac-12 competitor that led him to Puk stubbe in the Nederlands.

Ron Zwerver, former associate head coach of the state of Oregon and Olympic medalist of the Netherlands, sent Rubio a film of Stubbe. The Beavers didn’t need an opposite, so he was trying to find another place for her to go, especially in the Pac-12. A few months before the start of the season, there was not much time.

Just getting approval to go on the trip was a long plan. It can take up to a month as international travel doesn’t just involve the sports department. In five days, Rubio had his approval and was in the Netherlands for the weekend.

“It was so fortuitous,” Rubio said. “You are no better off. After 30 years, I deserve some luck. But it was certainly worth the trip.

It was almost as quick for Stubbe. At 21, she had already been out of school for over a year. She graduated from high school at the age of 19, then took a year off due to the pandemic. Getting into NCAA volleyball and going back to school wasn’t something she had planned.

“Three months ago I decided to do something else,” Stubbe said. “Because I have already played beach volleyball for six years with the national team. I was a bit done with it, but I wasn’t done with volleyball because I love volleyball.

She was joking with her sister, who told her that she should just go to America and play. Stubbe was sure she was too old for that, but Zwerver told her it was not beyond the realm of possibility. He set to work and it became reality very quickly.

The big question was whether she could bear to be away from her family for so long, even for volleyball. The sport plays a big role in his family. His father John played professionally in the Netherlands and turned to the ad after his playing career. He was also her trainer. His sister Joy is part of the Dutch national beach volleyball team.

“I’m still really a family girl,” Stubbe said. “I am always with my family. If I go to a game or a tournament … my family is coming. So now I have to go alone and they say to me, ‘Are you really doing this alone? You want that?’ I say yes. And my parents are really proud that I grew up and embarked on a new adventure on my own.

This helped her have a growing contingent of international players in Arizona. With his addition, the Wildcats now have four players on the roster who hail from outside of the United States. It hasn’t always been the case in Tucson, but it allows international players to live together and provide support.

Currently, Stubbe lives with Sofia Maldonado Diaz, who came from Mexico last season. They live in an apartment in front of Merle Weidt and Dilara Gedikoglu, who came from Germany and Turkey respectively. While Weidt and Gedikoglu transferred to Arizona after spending time at other US universities, Maldonado Diaz and Stubbe both came to Tucson directly from their home countries.

“I think we have the same experience because we are so far from home,” Stubbe said. What if you say, ‘Yes, I miss my mom.’ I see what you mean. It’s not nice. Your mother is so far away.

She also mentions the associate head coach Rita stubbs and Rubio as sources of support.

“It gave me a real sense of home,” Stubbe said of Rubio.

On the court, she is still learning. At home, she played indoor volleyball during the beach offseason, but “just for fun”. Getting used to playing competitively on hard court instead of sand takes work.

“My brain hurts after training because I have to think a lot,” Stubbe. “And I’ve only been here two and a half weeks, then we already have games. So it’s like I can do things in the game but I have to keep my head in everything. Everything I do, I have to think about it, so it’s kinda hard. But I think it’s good to have several things in your backpack, like the things I know from home, the things I know from here.

In his first three games, Stubbe averages 2.44 kills per set on a 0.250 hit. She has five blocks in total in nine sets. Her best outing was against New Mexico State, when she had 13 kills on 0.435 strikes and added an assist, an ace and six digs.

Although she is already having a positive effect on the pitch, Rubio believes it will be even more important as she gets used to life off the pitch. One of the big transitions is going back to school.

“And this school is a little hard for me to get because I was already done with school for a year,” she said. “So I really need to pick up the pace of school, and I know I can do it. “

Stubbe hasn’t decided on a major yet, but she’s getting rid of her general education requirements. After leaving school for over a year, she has to get used to going back to class. Integrating it into your sports activities is also different.

“They are two separate entities in Europe,” said Rubio. So when you are an athlete you just focus on your sport and you don’t have to worry about school. At school, you were just a student and didn’t have to worry about being an athlete. Here it’s the combination and trying to deal with the overload of that and then all the meetings that come with being a new student.

The only thing the school had prepared her for was to operate in an English speaking world. Stubbe said she started taking basic English classes in primary school and then moved on to more complex English classes as she progressed through the Dutch education system.

Life outside of school has helped her master more informal English. Stubbe said entertainment imported from English-speaking countries is not dubbed in the Netherlands. So, movies and songs from USA helped her learn English as it is actually spoken by native English speakers.

Now she enjoys learning about the culture and climate of southern Arizona.

“It’s warmer and sunnier,” she says. “People are so positive and they help me … I love their energy.”

It’s one more experience she can pack into her backpack for her future on and off the pitch.


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