A look back at the ASU women's volleyball season

There are silver linings to the Sun Devils' strenuous season

This ASU women's volleyball season was a historic one in many ways – not all of them positive. 

The Sun Devils finished off the regular season with a 20-game losing streak, the longest losing streak in program history. 

The program began the season brightly with a four-game win streak which included the team sweeping in the Sun Devil Volleyball Classic back in August. During the tournament, players like senior libero Halle Harker and senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro solidified themselves into leadership roles. 

Okaro earned All-Tournament MVP honors after contributing a double-double on the final day against the Boise State Broncos, and Harker recorded a team-best 25 digs during that match, moving herself to fifth in program history.

As the season continued, the Sun Devils won six of their next eight matches. They would sweep nearly all of their opponents during the streak. The Sun Devils boasted a 10-2 record heading into Pac-12 play, and it looked as though they would contend in the conference. 

However, that would not be the case. 

The Sun Devils opened up Pac-12 play with a 3-0 loss to Arizona at home. In the loss, sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic shined with 14 kills. Over the next 19 matches, the Sun Devils would compete in 11 top-25 games. 

They would hold their own against a then-ranked No. 7 Washington. In the match, the Sun Devils would start off the night 2-0 before losing three straight sets. Okaro once again showed her dominance on the court with a career high 30 kills.

As the season dragged on, the Sun Devils were unable to shake the troubles they’d been having. One could point to the difficult schedule they had – more than half of the Pac-12 was ranked. 

The team also added 10 new players during the off season, including five freshman, and it introduced a completely new coaching staff as well. Despite all of this, players were unable to point to one reason for their lack of success. 

While they were unable to determine that reason, the team decided that the most important thing was for every person to know their role. 

While the record may not show it, as the season winded down, the Sun Devils improved. They minimized their errors in matches, and a few players were able to have historical impacts on the program – one of those players was Harker. 

Harker, who began conference play at fifth all-time in ASU career digs, moved up three spots to No. 2. She completed this feat in her final match as a Sun Devil, where she notched 31 digs against rival UA. 

The digs brought her to 2,029 overall, pushing her over Stephanie Preach's mark of 2,010 from 2010-13.

Harker wasn’t the only one making history, however. Okaro's 489 kills on the season was the 10th most in a single season in program history, according to Sun Devil Athletics. When the Pac-12 announced its post-season awards on Tuesday, Okaro was placed on the 2017 All-Pac-12 volleyball team.

After the final match, interim head coach Carlos Moreno spoke on how he felt the team fared.

"When I think about this group, I think about resilience," Moreno said. "It's not easy to have the kind of record we have and still come in and show up everyday and give their best. It takes a special group to do that, and I don't think just anybody can do it.”

Moreno said he believes that it takes a special group to be able to get back up everyday and learn from failure.

“It’s not about the outcome – it's about the journey, and I think they are ready to face any challenge. At end of the day, it's more than just volleyball, and as a coach, it's our job to teach life lessons through volleyball," Moreno said to Sun Devil Athletics. "Not only are these ladies better volleyball players, but better people because of it. I know they're going to do great things because of way they face adversity. We are excited for next year, and I have high expectations for this group."


Reach the reporter at klbroder@asu.edu or follow @KellyB1459 on Twitter.

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