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Coach Watson talks about the 2011 volleyball season


August 12, 2011

Check out the slideshow of the Sun Devil Volleyball team from azcentral.com

Sun Devil volleyball coach Jason Watson sat down and talked about everything and anything with his team for 2011. Last year the team beat three top-10 teams, including national runner up California. In this year's Pac-12 volleyball poll, USC and Cal were picked first and second...but ASU beat both last year. Check out what he has to say on the upcoming season.

SUN DEVILS HOST SHERATON CLASSIC
Arizona State will open its regular season Aug. 26 (Friday) and Aug. 27 (Saturday) at the Sheraton Classic held in Wells Fargo Arena. ASU plays at 7 p.m.

FRIDAY, AUG. 26
San Jose State vs. UW-Milwaukee, 4:30 p.m.
Denver vs. Arizona State, 7 p.m.

SATURDAY, AUG. 27
Denver vs. San Jose State, 10 a.m.
UW-Milwaukee vs. Arizona State, Noon
UW-Milwaukee vs. Denver, 5:30 p.m.
San Jose State vs. Arizona State, 7:30 p.m.

ON THE SEASON IN GENERAL
"We're really excited, we've been at this for a number of years. I feel like we've finally got this culture, this environment that is going to be conducive to a lot of success. It's taken a lot of time, we've made some tough decisions, but I am genuinely excited about our group. I think there is genuine excitement that the season can't get here soon enough."

ON THE PAC-12
"It's a wonderful volleyball conference. You know the level of talent in there, of athletes; it's as good as anywhere. Maybe the best. The level of coaching is also on par with the level of athletes. So you've got to work hard and I think you're going to have to do that in the Pac-12, too. If you can get out of the Pac-12 and get to the NCAA tournament, you have a wonderful opportunity to get to the second weekend, and that's what we're all striving for."

ON THE 2011 SCHEDULE
"Twenty-two conference matches...that grind is going to be something different for us. We need to be prepared for that. Each match is really important, each match will be crucial to whether or not you get to the postseason. So I think that going to be a challenge. And certainly only having three weekends before you start conference play, you're not going to have much time to figure out your team before you get into that play. Learning how to manage that will be a challenge."

OFFENSIVELY...
"We have a new setter coming in, so that's going to be a change for us. One of the things we like about her is the ability to distribute the ball faster. We would like to be faster to the antennas. We felt like we had some success in the middle when we go fast, but we want to be faster at the pins. That's the primary thing we've been working on, trying to speed that up. We're very low error. We were last year one of that lowest error teams in the conference. But we hope that the speed that we can distribute the ball will enable us to score more points."

DEFENSIVELY...
"I think it's based on discipline, it's based on studying the game, certainly being aware of tendencies, preparing for our opponents well. So we need to continue that. One of the things I think we need to upgrade is our ability to process the game at a little bit faster rate, identify some things, get our eyes dialed in to what it is we're supposed to be looking at, then communicate a little bit better about histories and trends and tendencies that we haven't really been enabled to so far put into place. We feel comfortable with our returning middles and their knowledge of the game."

ON THE NEWCOMERS
"Each recruiting class gets better than the previous one, and that's a very positive sign. The 2011 class is a reflection of that. They are the 19th-best class in the country, and you have to realize that it's the sixth-best recruiting class in the Pac-12 so everybody's doing a good job. They share in a vision we have, they want to create this history at Arizona State, they want to be a part of something special that hasn't been done here before. They're competitive, they work hard, they have a rich volleyball history of success behind them before coming here. So we're really excited for them and how they blend in with our returners."

ON THIS YEAR'S LEADERS
"We certainly feel like Stephanie Preach will take on the mantle of some responsibility in leadership, defensively. We feel that Erica Wilson...who has some experience, a great deal of experience...is really playing quite well, and she too will lead us in some areas. Combined with Ashley Kastl...we all understand the need for our team to have direct communication and accountability, and those things you need to be successful. We feel comfortable that there will be some other people who will step up to those challenges, who will gravitate to those leadership positions."

ON TEAM CHEMISTRY
"We've done this great big push to ensure we have direct communication and that it isn't personal, it's a form of accountability." We went away from Tempe [Camp Tontozona] and that helped us address some of the issues that come up with teams and how we're going to resolve conflict and how we're going to communicate effectively, and what is it we're here doing and why is it we're doing it, and what should be our purpose."

ON THE SUN DEVIL REBRANDING
"I think it's a wonderful, wonderful brand, and we're kind of excited to be one of the first teams to take it out and unveil it when we get going here in August. We feel a little bit of responsibility to make sure we get it going in the right direction."

THE PAC-12 PRESEASON POLL
USC was picked to win the 2011 Pac-12 in the preseason poll conducted by the coaches. Cal, Washington, Stanford and UCLA finish the top five, followed by Oregon, Arizona, the Sun Devils, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado and Washington State. Some ASU fodder on the poll...the Sun Devils beat both teams picked first and second in 2010.