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Head coach Watson's 2009 volleyball outlook

August 26, 2009

As the 2009 Sun Devil Volleyball Team gear up to kick-off their season this weekend, Head Coach Jason Watson shares his thoughts on the team and their expectations as they head to the Utah Invitational this weekend to start their journey towards a successful and competitive 2009 season.

"We now know a lot more about our team and the competitive nature of competition in the PAC 10.  Last season provided us an intense learning curve.  Heading into this season, I feel our staff and athletes are better prepared for the challenges of the 2009 season and do so with considerable optimism.

I feel our 2009 recruiting class combines with our returning group to create a competitive environment in our gym.  As the season begins we have greater competition and depth in every position.  Competition is a much needed component for our program to further develop."

On the Setters: "Our program has three talented setters in competition.  Marina Mercer  is returning for her senior season and as such is our most experienced setter.  Yet, both Cat Highmark and Katie Crosby had impressive spring seasons.  I’m excited by the level of competition in this group.  Each of them is talented.  Each of them is different."

On the Outsides:  "We’re fortunate to have some depth in this position entering 2009.  Our core of Outsides is lead by Sarah Reaves.  Over the course of the spring semester and this summer, she was challenged to improve her game.  She has made significant improvements.  Sofie Schlagintweit and Camri Zwiesler continue to improve.  Sofie spent the summer gain invaluable experience with the Canadian National Team.  Camri’s commitment to continual daily improvement will be at the core of her success this season.

Joining this group is Malia Marquardt and Ashley Kastl.  Malia transferred to ASU over semester break.  Primarily a right side, she is in competition for playing time this season.  She has considerable playing experience, playing for a nationally prominent club team.  Ashley comes to ASU after a highly successful high school and club career.  She significantly adds to the competitive mix of this group."

On the Middles:  "Our program enters 2009 with 5 student-athletes in competition.  During the spring Paige Mittelstaedt moved into the middle, creating much needed depth and providing us with greater experience.  It wasn’t an easy move, but Paige has embraced the move – which further confirms her as an asset to our program and her commitment to improving ASU Volleyball.  Returning for us is Sonja Markanovich.  She started for us as a true freshman and has continued to show improvement.  Shawnee John Bluth redshirted last season.  She used the time to better understand our systems.

Our two incoming middles, Erica Wilson and Alexis Pinson help further the competitive environment of this group.  Erica excelled this past club season.  She has worked hard to put herself in a position to help our program.  Alexis played on a dominant high school program here in Arizona.  Both are commitment to ASU and our process of continual improvement."

Overall Expectations:  "Our team has much to learn.  However, we enter this season having learnt a considerable amount from last season.  I feel we have a better idea of the standards we need to be at each day we are in the gym.  We know more of the cadence of the conference season.  Our goal is to use the first four weekends of competitive to better prepare us for the PAC 10 Conference.  With increased competition come some uncertainties.  But we’re all committed to the continual improvement of our program.  So we’re extremely optimistic."