Meet the Devils: Q and A with incoming ASU women's volleyball players

Hear what some of this year's new ASU volleyball players have to say about the upcoming season

To preview the upcoming ASU volleyball season, State Press sports reporter Edith Noriega interviewed four of five new players on this year's Sun Devil volleyball team; Keelie LeBlanc, Tatum Rohme, Claire Kovensky, Avital Jaloba and Paige Denton.  

Edith: You are originally from Camas, Washington and were a four-time Offensive Player of the Year in high school, so why did you choose to come to ASU?

Keelie LeBlanc: For me, I always wanted to play college volleyball and the Pac-12 was my dream. It was really cool to get the opportunity to come visit the school (ASU) that was in that conference. On my visit, I got to stay with Dani (Danica Krstonosic) and Avi (Avital Jaloba) and hang out with them and they made me feel really welcomed and the coaches made it seem like I was a player that they really wanted.

Edith: Given what happened last season and the losses the team experienced, how does that affect you coming into the season and do you think that motivates you more?

Keelie LeBlanc: I think it's definitely a big motivator because it's one thing to go to a school that's on top already and has already set that standard, but it's really cool to come to a school where they are working for something that maybe it's been achieved a long time ago, but right now it's not where they are at, and so it's cool for me to be able to come in as a freshman and be a part in rebuilding the program and hopefully improve from last season. 

Edith: You are the only incoming freshman from Arizona. Why did you choose ASU to continue your education and collegiate career here?

Tatum Rohme: I didn't want to stay in-state but I took my visit here and got to know the girls and the coaches and it just felt like a family environment. I feel like if you have that family environment, you can build from that because once you have your second family there's nothing that can hurt that bond. 

Edith: You've had influences from former ASU volleyball players in high school and at East Valley Juniors Volleyball Club. Do you think that has given you an advantage coming into your freshman season? 

Tatum Rohme: My coach Terri Spann — she played here, and she has really helped get my confidence and my skill level up and it kind of just went on from there. I wouldn't say it's an advantage because they have different systems, so it's not the exact same, but it has definitely helped me become a better player. 

Edith: You are an incoming sophomore from Grand Canyon University. What was your decision behind transferring to ASU?

Claire Kovensky: As soon as I got my release, I was looking for a better fit because I had an idea of what I wanted in a school. What really mattered was also finding not only a good school, but an environment that was going to create something bigger for me. I think the biggest thing for me was talking to coaches and when I talked with Sanja Tomasevic on the phone. She was the most up front with me and the most honest. I admired that a lot compared to the other schools I was talking to. 

Edith: Your head coach said the team has had to learn how to separate off the court from on the court situations. How do you differentiate the two?

Claire Kovensky: Everyone is different on and off court, it is just a known fact. I think that not taking things too personally on the court is definitely something that is important because everyone can be competitive and everyone shows their emotions differently. Really understanding everyone on the team — who they are as a player and as a person is important because you need to know how they are going to be on and off the court.  

Edith: You are originally from Israel and have competed for the Israeli Women's National Team since 2013. How can you incorporate that experience with your new teammates? 

Avital Jaloba: I was playing with older teammates, so I know how to communicate with someone and what to expect from my teammates. I am bringing a different spirit because I'm not American. I'm coming from a different culture. It makes for a more variety of people and different kind of humor, spirit and work harder. 

Edith: Since the introduction of James Felton to the team earlier this spring, how has he been a help to the team?

Avital Jaloba: I think he has let us see things in another direction. If someone is telling me, "Oh, you need to be faster," she is telling me this because she can see things that I can't see. It's all to make me feel good, to make me better and it's not like she wants to put me down.

The ASU volleyball team will take the court for the first time on Aug. 18 in a Maroon and Gold scrimmage at Wells Fargo Arena. The team's first official game will be on Friday, Aug. 24 against the University of Texas at Arlington at 11 a.m. local time.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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