ASU volleyball heads to California for first Pac-12 road series

The Sun Devils will take on No. 17 Stanford and Cal in their weekend matchups

ASU volleyball is headed to the Bay Area this weekend for the team's first away games of Pac-12 play. ASU will take on No. 17 Stanford on Friday before heading to Berkeley to play Cal on Sunday. 

The Sun Devils come into the weekend with a 7-6 record and 0-2 in conference play. ASU lost its first two conference matchups in five sets last weekend against UA and then-No. 13 Oregon.  

“We understand that we are right in there and we can beat anybody, but we are going to have to do it because no one is going to give it to us,” head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. 

The team’s first tough road test comes Friday evening when it takes on Stanford, which currently has a 6-4 record. Tomasevic said key players for the Cardinal include redshirt sophomore outside hitter Caitie Baird, who was named to the 2020 All-Pac-12 Women's Volleyball Team and 2020 Pac-12 All-Freshman team. 

Junior opposite Kendall Kipp and senior middle blocker Holly Campbell will also be key players for Stanford’s offense. The pair brings leadership experience, as the two helped the team win the NCAA National Championship in 2019. 

Both ASU and Stanford have relatively young teams, so discipline will be an important factor for both squads. 

"As a team, we need to be disciplined and patient," junior libero Annika Larson said. "Stanford is a really smart team. (The winner) will be who is more patient."

On Sunday, ASU will head across the San Franciso Bay to play Cal. The Golden Bears are coming into the matchup this weekend with an identical record to that of the Sun Devils. Tomasevic mentioned senior outside hitter Mima Mirkovic as one of the key players whom ASU’s defense will need to shut down. 

“She’s (Mirkovic) pretty good, she’s going to be their go-to player,” Tomasevic said.

The Sun Devils have plenty of weapons of their own. Offensively, the team is led by junior outside hitter Iman Isanovic and sophomore outside hitter Marta Levinska. Isanovic, who leads the team in kills with 201, was a Pac-12 honorable mention last year.

Levinska made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last year and has been named to two all-tournament teams so far this season. She is also a force to be reckoned with as a server, registering 19 service aces, the second-most in the Pac-12.

“In service, a lot of it comes from mindset," Levinska said. "I think about my mechanics and not to doubt myself."

On the defensive side, Larson has recorded 215 digs, and sophomore middle blocker Claire Jeter has 56 blocks. 

The team will look to pick things up offensively this weekend, as Tomasevic indicated that "focusing on getting kills is important."

ASU currently sits tied for 9th place in the conference along with Cal, both of whom have yet to win a conference game so far. The Sun Devils are hoping to change that this weekend in the Bay Area. 

"We are definitely motivated and driven," Levinska said. "We really want to win, because we have been so close. We are hungry to win." 

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