It had been in development for a long time, but it didn’t take long for 2025 volleyball commit Paige Thies to say that she wanted to be an Arizona Wildcat when the call came. It was a done deal the first day the outside hitter from the Portland, Ore. suburbs was eligible.
“I actually committed on the first day,” Thies said. “I just didn’t announce until the second. The time wasn’t actually important. It was more the fact that Arizona has been my dream and as soon as Coach Rita [Stubbs] called, I knew my answer would be yes and I would be done with my college search.”
Thies already knew quite a bit about the Wildcats’ program. She plays for North Pacific Juniors, the same club team that produced former Arizona outside hitter Paige Whipple. She even played under Whipple’s sister Hannah for the NPJ beach volleyball program.
“Paige would come to visit.” Thies said. “We talked about Arizona, the state, and I loved hearing how it was always warm! Once I really started to look at the University of Arizona, I talked to Paige a couple times at tournaments. She mentioned that I would love the team atmosphere, the competitiveness, and of course the warm weather.”
Starting to look at colleges included going to camps around the country. Thies knew she wanted to leave the state of Oregon for college. Her parents were supportive of that, taking her as far as the East Coast to go to camps and on visits.
“They are excited that I actually chose a school still on the West Coast,” she said.
That family support is what got her into volleyball to begin with. Thies played a lot of sports when she was very young, but her mom was a volleyball coach. She asked her daughter to give it a try, and the seven-year-old Thies fell in love with the sport after her first camps.
“When I was nine, my swim coach told me I had to make a choice between swim and volleyball,” Thies said. “I chose volleyball. I love the team aspect of the game. It’s one of the few sports where everyone has to work together to be successful.”
Volleyball camps eventually brought her to Tucson. Thies attended a prospect camp in the summer of 2022 under former head coach Dave Rubio.
“I got to work under Coach Rita, take a tour of the school, and have a good conversation with the coaches about the program,” Thies said. “I came away from the experience knowing that I wanted to come back to the program, the school, and Tucson.”
It was just one of the events she has had the opportunity to work under Stubbs. Those experiences gave Thies insight into her future head coach, making it a simple choice even after Rubio unexpectedly retired just one year into his latest contract.
“I like her hands-on coaching style, her in-depth knowledge about how to coach each individual player, her bold personality and willingness to get to know each of her players on a personal level and treat the team as a family,” Thies said. “I believe that Coach Rita, regardless if it’s her first year or not, will do everything she can to lead her team to success.”
Thies still has two years of high school and club volleyball to play before she arrives in Tucson. Last year, she made the 6A All-State second team as a sophomore at Oregon City High School. She was the only player on either the first or second team who wasn’t a senior. When asked what she wants to accomplish in those final two seasons, it wasn’t the personal accolades that she mentioned, though.
“For high school, I am hoping to take my team as far as we can in state,” Thies said. “Last year we finished fourth, which was the farthest my school had made it in over a decade, and this year we want to go to the championship game.”
There are personal goals, though. Thies will be working on parts of her game that will help her current teams and get her ready for the Wildcats. While her coach at Oregon City thinks she’s already the best offensive player in the state, Thies said that she thinks she needs to improve both her blocking and her eye work at the net.
“These are the aspects I want to work on because I want to be as valuable to the team as I can be when I arrive,” Thies said.