ASU women's volleyball gears up for 2019 season, leans on team experience

The program has multiple experienced upperclassmen and added two high-scoring hitters

With the ASU women’s volleyball team's season just one day away, the program looks to build on their best campaign since 2015.

“It’s an exciting bunch because there’s a lot of potential,” head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how much work and how much discipline we're going to put in to grow.”

In 2018, the team entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association top-25 for the first time since 2015 after it upset No. 12 Oregon and No. 15 Washington in the same week.

Tomasevic hopes to see the team progress throughout non-conference play in order to recapture some of the early success from last season.

"Just continue growing every day,” Tomasevic said. “Hopefully, by the time we are in the Pac-12 (schedule), we are ready to go.”

The team most notably returns senior outside hitter Ivana Jeremic and junior outside hitter Claire Kovensky, the team’s second-best and third-best scorers in 2018. 

Even though Jeremic continuously displayed her scoring ability last season, she believes she is not playing at her peak just yet.

“Maybe numbers-wise, I was somewhere high, but I was nowhere where I want to be," Jerermic said. "I'm always looking for ways to help my team."

The team will also be bolstered by the additions of senior outside hitter Jada Burse, a transfer from Kansas, and freshman outside hitter Iman Isanovic

“(Burse and Isanovic) provide us a lot of depth at this position,” Tomasevic said. “We returned the other two outsides (Jeremic and Kovensky) and then those two were added; we have a lot of depth at that position this year.”

Burse, an All-Big 12 First Team recipient in 2018, will look to elevate the Sun Devils with the same elite outside hitting she gave Kansas. She led the Jayhawks in points and kills last season and also displayed her scoring prowess in the Maroon and Gold scrimmage, leading the team with 23 kills in the exhibition.

Isanovic also made a splash in her debut for the Sun Devils with 20 kills in the scrimmage. She and Burse will compete to fill a spot left by former outside hitter Alyse Ford, who led the team in points scored and kills in 2018.

“They're making it really hard to know which one I'm going to play," Tomasevic said. "It's literally day-to-day competition to see who's going to start. So, I'm looking forward for (them) to take some swings and to take some leadership at that position.”

Their new talent and returning players could help them compete this season. But outside the program expectations are low, as ASU is ranked second-to-last in the Pac-12 preseason poll

“Obviously, (experience) helps because we’ve been through it before,” said senior setter Nicole Peterson. “The older you get, the more time you play in the Pac-12, the more you know what to expect.”

Peterson also displayed excitement for the newer faces that could contribute this year. 

“Honestly we have some young girls that are great too,” Peterson said. “So, we’ll try to teach them as much as we can before we get to the Pac-12.”

Senior libero Courtney Leffel encapsulated what the team needs to accomplish in every game in order to improve their record.

"Serving tough, passing good and not making mistakes," Leffel said. "We can't think about mistakes; just move past it, have a plan and execute."

The team begins its season against Houston as part of the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup on Friday at 10:30 a.m. MST.

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