ASU volleyball prepares for Hawaii

ASU will be without junior setter Shannan McCready (7)  to open the season in Hawaii. (Photo by Michaela Mader) ASU will be without senior setter Shannan McCready (7) to open the season in Hawaii. (Photo by Michaela Mader)

As the ASU volleyball team prepares for its tournament in Hawaii this weekend, it will be without senior setter Shannan McCready.

McCready, dealing with a partial labrum tear, will be unable to play in her home state. “It’s kind of a shame. … We planned this trip however many months, years in advance to take her home for her senior year,” said coach Jason Watson. “It’s a little bittersweet. She gets to go home, but she doesn’t get to play.”


McCready is cleared to practice light passing with no overhead work. She’s been with the team and will travel with them, but she was unavailable after practice for comment.

Watson said she has been a welcome voice and a strong leader as the sole active senior on the squad. Additionally, it opens up room in the back row for players like sophomore outside hitter BreElle Bailey and sophomore liberos Mia Mazon and Genevieve Pirotte.

After rarely serving last season, Bailey has improved and will likely get chances in the upcoming year.

“That’s one of the things that we challenged Bre in the Spring, let’s get better at the serve, let’s get better at passing, let’s get better at playing defense,” Watson said.

The other side of the court features sophomore opposite hitter Kizzy Willey. She injured her knee last year but has been playing well at practice and the scrimmages.

Watson said the knee is fine, but a relapse may not be a surprise.

“At this stage, it’s all good, but it’s a long, grueling, brutal season, so we’ll see where we are in a month from now,” he said. “Right now, there’s no noticeable impact in her play.”

In preparation for the season, Watson said, the team has focused on an all-around approach in practices and he hasn’t emphasized a particular aspect of volleyball.

“It’s just trying to play the game well and trying to play the game well for a long time,” he said.

Following the final Maroon and Gold scrimmage, Watson said serves and serve receipts needed to be cleaned up.

“The game is won and lost on those two skills more than not,” he said. “A big part of those two, especially serve receipt, is being comfortable with the people that are next to you and the assignments that you have.”

Junior setter Bianca Arellano said the team has worked on blocking and specifically eye work. Getting eyes off the ball quickly is a key point of eye work — this allows the blocker to see the hitter better and position herself more effectively.

The upcoming tournament in Hawaii will feature San Diego State, Hawaii and Ohio.

Watson said the teams’ statuses and strengths are relatively uncertain because of changes to their rosters.

“There’s a great number of unknowns that we’re dealing with,” he said.

Arellano said all the teams have finished in the Top 25 in past seasons, and they’ve all played in tournaments.

“We’re super excited to be there in Hawaii and play against some top-tier teams,” she said.

Watson said although he doesn’t know much about the opponents, he knows about the Hawaii culture and small island state's love of volleyball.

“(Hawaii is) one of the most iconic volleyball institutions in the country,” he said. “They have this passionate fan base. And an educated fan base on the sport, and I think that’s in and of itself, a wonderful thing.”


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