Sept. 13, 2012
By Jourdan Rodrigue, Digital Communications Intern
The ASU women's volleyball team embodies exactly that: a team.
As they prepared for their home opener against Villanova on Friday, they looked strong. They looked aggressive. They looked really, really tall. But mostly, they looked cohesive.
"I feel like our team is a lot closer [this year]," senior outside hitter, Erica Wilson said. "We hold each other accountable without getting upset, we can give each other feedback...it's nice when your teammates are there for you and competing together and not against each other. "
The team's bond showed even in practice as they cheered each other on in sprints and offered constructive criticism during drills.
The ladies have been on the road for the past three weeks. They're opening at Wells Fargo with a 7-2 record--a huge difference from last season's final 1-12 record on the road. Additionally, they're only three games away from a higher win-total in comparison to their 9-22 2011 season.
"What it means is that we have a lot of work to do still, because the season is young," Head Coach Jason Watson said. "It means up until today we've been doing a nice job of getting better, but we're perpetually dissatisfied."
Though all of their travelling has exhausted the team they have confidence that they will add Villanova to their list of wins.
"We're always tired," Wilson said. "But if we're not working hard, somebody else is working harder than us so we've just have to push through it."
They especially need to adjust to Carly Edwards, a right-side lefty at Villanova who played in 83 sets for a total of 90 kills in the 2011 season.
"We've had some trouble trying to defend an athlete of that caliber and so as we prepare for Villanova, that's something that we're going to have to be really good at," Watson said.
"We need to adjust to her hitting tendencies early in the game," Wilson said.
Watson, like his players, is excited to play a home game but understands there will be some challenges.
"I hope we can play with some composure. I think that there are some inherent emotions that come into play when you're playing at home -especially your opener," he said. "The challenge for us will be to keep calm."
But for Macey Gardener, there isn't a lot of pressure to perform.
"I know we're ready to play," she said. "We're going to expect everything and be ready for anything."
The Sun Devils face Villanova at 12:00 p.m. on Friday at Wells Fargo Arena. The match is part of the ASU Sheraton Invitational, so the team will also play UC Riverside at 8:00 p.m. that night, then Florida Atlantic and Gonzaga at 2:30 and 8:00 p.m. Saturday.