As season comes to a close, who will lead ASU women's volleyball in 2018?

Seniors Halle Harker and Oluoma Okaro say the important thing is for everyone to know their role

The ASU women’s volleyball program has two matches left in its 2017-18 season and as the season comes to a close, there comes a question of how the program will look after losing arguably two of its best players.

While it is still early to decide who will take on that leadership role, three names have popped up. 

Interim head coach Carlos Moreno said he believes that senior libero Blair Robalin, sophomore liberos Halle Johnson and Courtney Leffel have the potential to become great leaders. 

Moreno said he thinks they have learned from senior libero Halle Harker and have the capability of filling Harker's shoes.

“I think they have to follow the example of that work ethic, and I think they're on the right path,” Moreno said. 

Moreno said that the players had been so mesmerized with Harker’s skill and dominance on the court that they wanted to step back and let her do her own thing.

“Eventually someone is going to have to step up,” Moreno said. “I think once she’s gone, they are going to be ready, based on her example.”

All three of the players Moreno mentioned have made an impact on the court at least once this season. 

Leffel has almost quadrupled what libero counterparts Johnson and Robalin have made combined in digs (62) with a total 246 on the season. Leffel may not be leading the team in digs like Harker, but she is right up there with her.

The sophomore has already contributed this season with a season-high 16 digs in a competitive Oregon State match that went to five sets, however, a few players on the roster believe that the important thing is not for these players to step into leadership roles right away. 

Senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro believes that it’s essential for everyone to step into their own roles as the season dies down and not for anyone to overstep any boundaries.

“If everyone steps up within their own roles, that's beneficial to the team,” Okaro said. “I think especially this year people stepped up at times but not all the time. I think there's a difference between stepping up and being a leader on the court.”

Most of the major decisions come in spring. Spring practice is truly when the players who want to be considered leaders must step up. 

As the season comes to a close, Harker said one thing she is focused on is going out on a high note. 

“I don’t really look at wins and losses as high notes,” Harker said. “It's more of just making sure that I am learning why, like why were we losing this much, what did I need to learn from it all.”

The record may not show it, but the Sun Devils have improved throughout the treacherous Pac-12 slate as they took two of the past three matches to five sets – something they have only done four times this year. 

Along with the close matches, the Devils continue to break records. One of which is Okaro who sits right behind Stanford’s freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer in kills in the Pac-12. Plummer averages 4.72 kills per set, while Okaro averages 4.42. The Sun Devils also sit No. 2 in the Pac-12 in digs per set with 16.32, only .41 behind UCLA.

The Sun Devils hope to end things on a high note Wednesday, Nov. 22 as they travel to Pullman, WA to take on Washington State at 8 p.m. Following Wednesday’s match, the Sun Devils will head down south to face Arizona at 7 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 25.


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

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