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Marta Levinska returns to women's volleyball team for highly anticipated senior year

The star senior returns for the 2023 season with big goals for herself and her teammates

ASU senior outside hitter Marta Levinska (4) celebrates a point during a scrimmage at Mullett Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023 in Tempe.

Senior outside hitter Marta Levinska is one of the top returners for the Arizona State women's volleyball team this season, being named to the 2023 Preseason All-Pac-12 Team

Levinska's volleyball career started in her home country of Latvia, where she was first introduced to volleyball by her brother and her aunt. She said playing competitive volleyball was not the original plan and considered other sports like basketball. Her coach at the time saw her athletic potential and helped her fall in love with the sport, which she said she has been playing for over a decade. 

In her long career, Levinska has experienced many different levels of competition. However, one that she said stands out to her was during her time playing for her hometown team. When she was 16 years old, her volleyball league included women with more experience than her and her teammates. Despite that, her team had made it to the semifinals of a tournament during its first season but ended up losing. They were forced to play for third place. 

"That would be one of the worst losses of my entire career," Levinska said. "We did win bronze the following day, but I will never forget that feeling of defeat and how quickly you can go from your lowest point to one of your highest as a winner."

Levinska and the Sun Devils have found a winning formula to start the 2023-24 NCAA women's volleyball season, tallying a six-game winning streak. Half of the streak came from wins at the FGCU Invitational at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. Levinska's performances during those matches against FGCU, St. John's and Ole Miss earned her the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament. 

"It feels like a whole new experience for me playing with a new team and coach," Levinska said. "The experience has already been so different than ever before, and I'm excited to continue it and compete hard." 

New head coach of the women's volleyball team JJ Van Niel said he is excited to see Levinska play and lead the team during the season. 

"She plays with fire and is a great example of what it takes to go on the court fired up and ready to play," Van Niel said. "I love the fact that she’s on our team. She’s a lead-by-example kind of player, and I'm happy to see that." 

Her roommate and fellow teammate, graduate student Maddie McLaughlin said Levinska plays with focus and consistency.

"If I could describe her in one word, it would be 'poise,'" McLaughlin said. "She plays very consistently and stays well-balanced with both volleyball and her personal life. She is hyper-focused and committed to her mentality, herself, and to her team."  

Shannon Shields, another one of Levinska’s teammates, said she admires her commitment to the sport and her leading role on the team.

"She’s a force to be reckoned with," Shields said. "She’s super smiley off the court, but once she’s on, she’s so focused. She knows that everyone has a role here and makes us feel important to this team."

Levinska said she is aiming for a bid in the NCAA Tournament, which the Sun Devils missed last season.

"I feel we can go pretty deep this year with all that has changed for us with this new staff and competitors," Levinska said. 

She brings her achievements and accolades from back home in Latvia and in the U.S. at Arizona State to the court every match. She said strives to leave it all on the court through the rest of this season.

"I want to play freely and fully, so I leave the court this season with no regrets to look back on,"  Levinska said.

Edited by Vinny Deangelis, Sadie Buggle, Grace Copperthite and Shane Brennan

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