Leaving it all on the court: ASU volleyball seniors reflect on their final season

The Sun Devils plan on finishing their season strong and together

With the ASU volleyball season coming to an end, the team's three seniors are making the most of their days in maroon and gold.

Together, the Sun Devils ended an 11-game losing streak by taking down No. 14 USC, 3-1 on Sunday, Nov. 18. Outside hitter Alyse Ford led players on both teams with 25 kills, middle blocker Carmen Unzue had six blocks and six kills and opposite hitter Peyton Grahovac’s only kill of the match was the final one – ending the game in ASU victory. 

All three players had their ups and downs during their final season, but together on Sunday against USC, they rang the victory bell. And together they will face their last two regular season opponents – Stanford and Arizona.

“Us, the seniors, we have really learned to value no matter where you are, win or lose, it's the people around you," Grahovac said. "That’s what you're going to remember the most. Family means so much to us. I want the team to literally be a family. No matter what, we have each other’s backs.”

Grahovac injured herself before the season even began, but she refused to red shirt because Grahovac didn’t want to end her volleyball career with any other team than ASU. 

“I would rather finish with four games as a Sun Devil then go to another university for another season,” Grahovac said. “It wasn’t like a pride thing or a selfish sort of thing. It was the relationship I have made here. I love wearing Sun Devil on my jersey. This is the best decision I have ever made coming here.”

Ford transferred for her final collegiate season from USC so she could be closer to her immediate family. While Ford has only been at ASU for a single season, it won’t stop her from working to leave her own impact as a Sun Devil.

“We talk about pride a lot — self-pride, school pride, team pride, and we challenge our seniors,” coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “As a senior, you always want to leave the place you played for in a better shape than when you came in. I know Alyse when I talked to her, that’s what she striving to leave this place in a better place than when she got here.” 

Ford hopes to leave ASU with the lasting impression that this team is full of fighters.

"With these girls, I just want them to know we are still a very talented team," Ford said. "Whether we make it to the tournament or not, I want them to know (and) to have the confidence to make it to the tournament next year."

Unzue who has been with the team the longest out of all the seniors, transferred to ASU after a freshman season at American University. 

“I felt that mostly the girls were the reason I love ASU,” Unzue said. “I could have stayed at American (University) and kept winning, but I didn’t feel the same with those girls, and I like ASU way more because of the girls and how open they were and welcoming they were. That’s who I consider (to be) my American family.”

For Unzue, it is not just her last few games as a Sun Devil but the first time her mother will be watching her play in person in four years.

"(My mom) is the one who cares the least about sports right now," Unzue said. "‘Carmen, I want you to enjoy. I want you to do what you love as long as you still love it.’ That’s my mom. She is always there no matter what. (I am going to) just finish strong, have fun and remember why I am here and why I started all this from the beginning. It wasn’t about results or rewards or anything it was about the learning experience and building relationships with people."

Reach the reporter at skbrisen@asu.edu or follow @sophiabriseno on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepressport on Twitter.  

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.