Sun Devil volleyball reflects on season heading into NCAA tournament

With the hot and cold extremes of its 2013 season, the ASU women’s volleyball team reminisced on the past few months with the NCAA tournament approaching.

From their traditional pre-game Haka to the occasional married-couple squabbles in practice, three of the top five scoring Lady Sun Devils shared their most memorable ups and downs of the season, on and off the court.

A Haka is a traditional war dance that originated in New Zealand, sophomore middle Whitney Follette said.

“Before every game with about five minutes before we head down to the court for warmup, (we) say a prayer over the game and the team, and then do a Haka,” she said. It gets us pumped up as we yell and laugh.”

Sophomore outside hitter and All-Pac-12 team member Macey Gardner remembered a comical time during a specific match-prepping Haka.

“We were doing the Haka pre-game and a girl on our team held up our coach’s shirt and nice game clothes and did the Haka dance with them,” Gardner recalled. “There are truly too many funny moments on this team.”

Sophomore outside hitter Kizzy Willey reminisced on a moment before a game in Illinois when the girls tried to reenact the song “Summer Nights” from the musical “Grease.”

The season’s trials and tribulations have also created a bond between the girls on the team. Follette, who is also roommates with Willey and Gardner, remembered a time when she and Willey were arguing at practice.

Coach Jason asked us if we needed counselling, like for married couples, which was funny” Follete commented.

Other memorable things that the players recalled from the season included coach Jason Watson’s trips to Wendy’s for a celebratory Frosty after each win, and the team parents’ reactions after winning a close match.

It wasn’t all fun and games, though, as there were also moments of victory and tribulation. From defeating the University of Texas, the defending National Champion, to losing starting setter Bianca Arellano late in the season, the Lady Sun Devils have endured a lot as a team.

“Throughout the season, it has been a struggle in the Pac-12 for us, as we have come up against some very fierce competition,” Follette said. “We take it game by game.”

The Sun Devils (19-13, 8-12 Pac-12) are 9th in the Pac-12 Conference and have qualified for the NCAA tournament with their No. 49 national ranking. They face No. 29 BYU on Friday in Hilo, Hawaii in their first tournament game. The game starts at 8 p.m., and the Haka starts at 6:55 p.m.

“There have definitely been some games where we haven’t met our potential,” Follette admitted. “But overall, the team has exceeded my expectations.”

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