Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Dave Rubio can't come up with a name.
"We've had freshman in the past start for us but..."
In the pantheon of Arizona volleyball he's struggling to make a comparison.
"...someone on the road in a really hostile environment under that kind of pressure...I can't think of someone who's really performed like that."
That's how the career of freshman outside hitter Tyler Spriggs started. On the road. In a really hostile environment. Under pressure.
In her first game as a Wildcat, in the first game of the Wildcats' season, Spriggs led the way with 16 kills. Through her first three collegiate matches, she's second on the team in kills (29) trailing only West Virginia senior transfer Nikki Attea by 4.
"Started in the locker room," said Spriggs. "I was just full of nerves. As soon as I stepped out there and stepped on the court with the rest of my teammates, I felt so comfortable. So at home with everything that was going on."
"I wasn't sure what to expect from Tyler," said Rubio. "The thing that I did know about her is that she's not afraid of the big moments."
"I've always been a big game type of player," said Spriggs.
Given her lineage, that isn't a surprise.
Spriggs is the daughter of Larry Spriggs Sr, a name that should resonate with Los Angeles Lakers fans. In 1985 Spriggs played alongside Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy en route to an NBA Championship. The small forward spent three seasons with the Showtime Lakers, part of a 5 year NBA career that took him from Houston, to Chicago, to Los Angeles.
"It was nice growing up knowing that was part of my bloodline," said Spriggs. "Purple and gold was always there. When people ask me what's your favorite team, it's definitely always going to be the Lakers."
Of course the younger Spriggs wasn't around to watch her father play for Pat Riley. By the time she was born in 1997, Dad's basketball career was winding down after nearly a decade playing basketball in Europe and South America, a 15 year career that proved to be a valuable teaching tool to young Tyler.
"He stresses hard work," said Spriggs. "You can't get that far in a career without showing hard work and being persistent in what you love."
It didn't take long for Rubio to notice that hard work and persistence. He zeroed in on Spriggs during her freshman year of high school. By the time she was a junior, Spriggs gave Arizona the green light, shunning programs including Colorado, Wisconsin, and Miami.
"They had been so consistent about showing how much they wanted me here," said Spriggs. Talk about persistence.
Of course no one is anointing her anything just yet. It was just one weekend in a long list of weekends. The big time tests will come in a few weeks when Arizona opens up Pac-12 play. Still, while no one can predict the future, you can't help but get excited, even if that excitement is based on sheer raw talent.
"Her skill set needs to continue to get better," said Rubio. "Her range and understanding of the game needs to get better but she's such a good athlete, such a competitor, that sometimes in big matches that's all you need."