ASU volleyball: new season, new attitude

ASU volleyball's international players have aided the Sun Devils in getting off to a 5-1 start

After a disappointing 10-22 overall record in the 2017 season, Sun Devil volleyball is back with a new mindset.

During the offseason, the team added some new faces and worked on communication

"The fact that we had a bad season last year is going to make us see volleyball differently,” senior middle blocker Carmen Unzue said. “We have nothing to lose. We are going to enjoy it more, and we are going to put less pressure on us, so we are going to go for it. Maybe champions have this pressure of ‘We are going to win again.’ ... For us, we have nothing to lose, so we are going to go for it.”

ASU volleyball is looking on the positive side and wanting to learn from one another and work hard.

"I want to finish this season thinking we did something different," Unzue said. "I want to remember this (season). It's not about winning or having trophies or anything. It's more about this group of girls."

Unzue is one of two middle blockers on the team, and both players hail from a foreign country. Unzue and ASU head coach Sanja Tomasevic both credited diversity on this year's team as a major strength.

“Diversity for sure (is a strength of the team)," Unzue said. "We have something new to bring (to the Pac-12).” 

The mix of international and American players on the team greatly benefits their energy and emotions, according to Tomasevic.

Freshman outside hitter and Israeli native Avital Jaloba said that many international players tend to be more emotional and intense in their game.

"Everything is (played) with all the heart, (from) bad to good," Jaloba said.  

Jaloba and Unzue agreed that they have been trying to control their intensity in order to assimilate to an American lifestyle on the court, but Tomasevic doesn't want that.

Tomasevic described the emotions on the court as a roller coaster, and for the team to be successful, they have to learn how to handle it. When the energy is low, they need to pick the energy back up and vice versa. Being composed will be a key.

With a 5-1 start to the season and a feisty group of international players that are looking to grow in one of the best volleyball conferences in the country, Jaloba, Unzue and the rest of the Sun Devils will look to bring their energy into every game.

“They have that passionate side of them," Tomasevic said. "Sometimes we have to tell them it’s not the end of the world. With them learning from each other. ... (there is a) little more heart on the team.” 

Up next, ASU will play Murray State and Wyoming as a part of the UNIWYO Invite. The Sun Devils' first game of the day will begin on Friday, Sep. 7 at 9 a.m. MST against the Racers. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @sophiabriseno on Twitter.

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