ASU water polo's Izabella Chiappini evolving into a world-class player

Then-freshman Izabella Chiappini is pictured in an ASU water polo game in 2014 (Photo courtesy of ASU) Then-freshman Izabella Chiappini is pictured in an ASU water polo game in 2014 (Photo courtesy of ASU)

ASU water polo sophomore attacker Izabella Chiappini led the Sun Devils in scoring last season, and looks to continue that trend as she is currently leading the team in the category. Because of that her prolific scoring and her experience, she has begun to take on the mantle of leadership.

“I think now I have a more important role on the team because some of the older players left,” Chiappini said.

Head coach Todd Clapper sees her entering this role, but finding a good balance between leadership and respect.

“I think she is young,” Clapper said. “She is still balancing between being a very experienced player, and understanding that by default makes her a leader in the water. She's warming up to it and understanding the responsibility of it. She's getting there. She's only a sophomore. She's such a talented and experienced player that it’s sometimes hard to remember that she is so young.”

Chiappini hails from Brazil, making her one of the many international players on the diverse Sun Devil team. Initially, she found the transition difficult, but has since found herself to be surrounded by a second family.

“In the beginning it was really hard. I miss my family so much. The girls were so nice to me and everything, and then I got used to it. They are all really good friends of mine.” Chiappini said.

Being one of the many players hailing from foreign countries, Chiappini adds to a diverse ASU team dynamic and says that she has learned a lot from her fellow teammates.

“You can learn things. There are some players from Hungary, from Greece, and you can learn things about the different countries.”

Chiappini has improved greatly since her freshman year.

“I’m really starting to see her reach another level,” Clapper said. “She’s always been a good player. She's always been very physical, fast, and shoots the ball well. I’m starting to see a lot of those subtleties and creativity now. Her release is getting better on her shots. She has more of a variety of shots now. Defensively she's getting more savvy. From that standpoint it’s really exciting because she is young, too. She's a great player, but she's young. It’s really nice seeing her take that next step and really maturing into a world class player.”

Chiappini has had to add more shots to her arsenal out of necessity to stay a lethal offensive threat.

“I need to try different things because we play the play so many times against the same teams, so they kind of know where I shoot, so I have to try different things,” she said.

Chiappini grew up surrounded by water polo, as it flows through her veins.

“My dad played water polo," she said. "My mom played water polo. My dad was my coach back home, and he was the coach for the national team. Any my brother plays water polo too. It’s a family affair.”

Clapper has faith that Chiappini has a shot at making the Brazilian national team and representing her country at the Olympics.

“Knowing that I have a chance to play, I don't even have the words to describe it," she said. "I’m so excited for the opportunity.”

Chiappini is confident with the way the team is developing and is looking forward to the rest of the season.

 

Reach the reporter at mtsteine@asu.edu or follow @MarcTSteiner on Twitter.

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