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ASU volleyball struggling to preserve leads despite strong start to season

In their two losses, the Sun Devils surrendered multiple runs of 5-0 or greater


ASU Volleyball's handshake line after its Maroon and Gold scrimmage in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Sun Devil volleyball (4-2) struggled to hold large leads in its two losses this season, giving up runs of 5-0 or greater in both matches against Western Kentucky and No. 24 Louisville. 

In their loss to Western Kentucky, WKU, ASU gave up an 8-0 run in the second set that allowed the Lady Toppers to tie the game and eventually win the set. ASU also built an 18-9 lead in the third set, but once again surrendered the lead and lost the set.

Read more: Sun Devil Volleyball drops two of three matches in the Fleur De Lis Tournament

The Sun Devils allowed multiple 5-0 runs in their loss versus Louisville. While most of those runs were made after Louisville had already gained the lead, it showed that ASU had trouble stopping momentum when it was created.

"The server (for Western Kentucky) just got on a run and we couldn't get out of it," head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. 

ASU played in the Fluer De Lis Tournament without two key outside hitters: senior Ivana Jeremic and junior Claire Kovensky. Tomasevic noted that their absences were key in the team's two losses.

“We’re missing (68) kills (between Jeremic and Kovensky) to injuries," Tomasevic said. “When that happens, it’s kind of hard to continue where you left off. We can’t let adversity hold us back.”

Tomasevic said the abilities the team missed the most from the hitters was not their points, but their passing. She detailed how the rest of the team's passing inexperience showed in the loss to WKU.

"That's something when you have young passers ... Iva wasn't here to pass, Claire wasn't there to pass," Tomasevic said. "And Courtney (Leffel) couldn't pass herself over the whole court, so inexperience caught up with us."

The team does not seem flustered by the losses and the runs it gave up. As senior outside hitter Jada Burse explained, it may be a necessary lesson for the team to learn and grow from.

"I think those losses were actually very vital in our success for the future," Burse said. "The losses we just had will definitely bring us together as a unit. I think it’s going to help us trust each other a little bit more on the court."

While senior libero Courtney Leffel was named to the all-tournament team, she feels that she and the team need to work on mental focus during matches — something that Tomasevic has also hammered during practices. 

"Just staying mentally engaged and not letting them not control the pace of the game," Leffel said. 

Leffel said she believes the team's biggest takeaway from the two losses is to be in the moment during games. 

"It's all mental," Leffel said. "Just taking a mental lesson away from those two games and needing to be confident that we can win." 

The team members will have plenty of opportunities before Pac-12 play to improve their focus on a set-to-set basis and close out matches. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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Jeffrey HorstDigital editor-in-chief

Jeffrey Horst is the digital editor-in-chief of The State Press. He previously served as the publication's sports editor and worked at Cronkite News and

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