For the past several weeks, the focus of the No. 22 ASU volleyball team’s practices has been passing. Coach Jason Watson emphasizes the first touch more than any other.
But the Sun Devils allowed just three service aces to the powerful Washington servers on Sunday. Now, the focus changes to the outside hitters, who recorded 47 errors in the two matches against WSU and Washington.
Watson said sophomore setter Bianca Arellano gave her team the opportunity to win with quality sets last weekend, but that the hitters failed to convert. So practice this week focused on hitting over the block.
“Certainly they need to be hitting higher,” Watson said. “We’re getting blocked way too much.”
ASU opponents blocked the Sun Devils 20 times last weekend. Watson said he is unhappy with that statistic.
“Part of that is that they’re not getting to the set. They’re a little bit away from the set,” Watson said. “Because of that, they don’t have range.”
Hitting closer to the set allows outside hitters to go down the line, take a sharp angle shot or drive it into the defense.
Regardless, Watson said the changes were minor, and that the objective is simply to point out some of the minute details to the outside hitters.
Watson also said that while improved swings are certainly an emphasis, the key is finding a balance.
“We don’t want them to take like 900 swings today before they go play on the weekend,” Watson said. “We’re always pretty conscious of that.”
The Follette Factor
Against WSU, sophomore middle blocker Whitney Follette notched 19 kills, a season high. She also hit .576, the highest number for a match with more than 10 kills.
Watson said involving Follette is crucial moving forward.
“If we want to have some success this weekend, we all need to be playing as well as Whitney,” Watson said.
Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner, who injured her hitting pinky before the conference schedule, said the finger was healing nicely, but that she will likely keep it taped for the rest of the season as a precautionary measure. She said the tape does not affect her swing.
“Swinging away is no big deal,” Gardner said. “Just taking balls overhead is a little sore.”
The Pac-12 schedule continues Friday when the Sun Devils host the No. 1 USC Trojans at 8:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott