Tuesday served as the first practice back from spring break for the ASU women’s club water polo team. Coach A.J. Grucky also returned from Europe after missing a week of practice before the break.
The team began practice with a warm-up swim, followed by pressure passing drills. Afterward, the women worked on picks and switches with an emphasis on motion. By remaining in motion, gaps are created on defense and the team was working on how to expose those gaps in order to score.
Junior Lindsey DelaTorre stressed the importance of constantly moving on offense.
“It’s important to always be looking for the ball, being aware of the situation and trying to get open,” DelaTorre said.
Grucky devised an offense in which the hole set clears two meters, while a wing player on either side drives into 2 meters to create some confusion and improvisation on the defense’s part.
As the wing player establishes herself as the new primary hole set, the player who cleared 2 meters originally then moves to a low-post position. By having a new player enter two meters, this forces the best set defender to relinquish her job and guard a post player.
This activity on offense can put a defense into a bind, especially if successful screens are taking place. The screens can allow the offensive players to break away for just a few seconds to catch an open pass and disrupt the entire defensive game plan.
At first, the team was a little quiet when practicing the drill. The players were all focused on executing their roles, but as they continued to run the motion offense, they seemed to gain more confidence in their abilities.
“I felt more confident as we practiced the drill,” DelaTorre said, “because toward the end, I was communicating more on offense; I had better awareness of what was going on, and I began to drive harder into two meters.”
The team ended practice by working on six-on-five power plays. Power plays occur when a defensive player obtains a 20-second ejection for an illegal defensive play. This leaves the defense with one less defender, forcing it to defend in a tight zone around the goal.
“It’s important to practice six-on-five plays, because you need to be ready for them. They happen often over the course of a game,” DelaTorre said.
Although the team spent just a sliver of practice working on power plays, the Sun Devils understood their roles on offense and defense and executed each power play efficiently.
All of this preparation in practice should prepare the team to win the Southwest Division Championships in Tucson from April 12 to April 13.
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