With just two weeks left in the regular season, the ASU women’s club water polo team realizes the Southwest Division Championships are just around the corner.
Tuesday’s practice served as a demonstration of how dangerous this team can be in the postseason.
After a warm-up swimming set and practice shots on the goal, coach AJ Grucky used the last hour of practice as scrimmage time. This way, the Sun Devils could work on executing plays in all phases of the game.
Unlike week’s past, there was no emphasis on offense. Grucky chose to let the team run any of its plays on offense and defense. Each team was given a minute to discuss amongst themselves what their game plan would be.
The only time play would stop was if the offense was unsuccessful at scoring a goal. At which point, Grucky would break down what exactly happened and explain why they were unable to score a goal on the defense.
In her senior year at ASU, Stefanna Spoletini understands the value of these types of scrimmages.
“The scrimmages are used to translate all of the drills from practice into an actual game.” Spoletini said. “It kind of turns into an emphasis of everything, not just offense.”
Halfway through the scrimmage, Grucky inserted a shot clock to further simulate a game-type environment.
The shot clock encouraged the women to speed up their already-fast tempo.
Both sides of the ball had shining moments. Multiple times, the offensive team would score goals by utilizing the whole set player.
If the ball could not get into two meters, the Sun Devils would set various picks to try and create space for an open shot on the outside.
The defensive team fronted its opponents to try and take away driving lanes. In addition it was constantly pressing in order to eliminate any easy passes.
Practice concluded with six-on-five power plays. Each team was given one possession to score before switching offense and defense.
If there is any room for concern heading into the Southwest Division Championships, Spoletini believes it is executing power plays.
“I wouldn’t say it’s every team’s weak spot, but it’s a difficult area to score,” she said.
Overall, it was apparent that Tuesday’s practice was one of the most successful practices all season.
“The effort progressively got better as practice went on,” Grucky said.
With only five practices remaining in the season, each one is crucial in order to win the Southwest Division Championships in Tucson on April 12 and 13.
ASU is seeded first and will face NAU on April 12 at 9:30 a.m, followed by a matchup against Utah at 4:30 p.m. the same day.
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