More to the Sport Than Just What's On The Court: Behind Sun Devil Volleyball

Oct. 20, 2009

by Alec Boyle

On the court, fierceness and cutthroat competition are the center focus for Arizona State University’s Women’s Volleyball Team. However, when the team is not engaged in a stifling match or perfecting their skills at practice, the players get cozy in their home away from home; the locker room.   


“The locker room is place that we can be a team without the stress and pressure of performing and being judged,” said senior setter Marina Mercer. “ Its our coach free zone, teammates only club.”


Team bonding is heightened by the time spent in the locker room, where pre-game routines have become traditions.


Prior to games, the sound of a beating drum can be heard coming from the team’s locker room, where the team enjoys playing Rock Band. Sophomore outside hitter, Camri Zwiesler dominates the drums while the rest of the team rotates through playing the guitar.


On game days, the team fuels up on Subway sandwich platters, which is a routine that has itself become a bonding experience for some. Players, Cat Highmark and Marina Mercer enjoy this pre-game meal together in a collective effort to finish each sandwich.


“I pick away at all the lunchmeat in the sandwiches and Marina [Mercer] eats the bread,” said sophomore Cat Highmark. “It works out perfect.”


Some routines have even turned into pre-game superstitions.


Before running out of the locker room, the team insists on jumping over an ice chest and slapping the top of the doorframe.


“As our own separate tradition, Camri [Zwiesler] and I hold hands when we jump over the ice chest,” said sophomore outside hitter Sofie Schlagintweit.


When in a huddle, the team holds each other accountable for each having one foot in and making sure that each of the players’ feet are touching.


However, one superstition the team is split on is wearing a hair bow on game days. While some players can be seen with a pink bow tied to their ponytails, others refuse to thinking it is bad luck.


“Personally, if I see someone on the other side of the court wearing a bow, I try to hit them with the ball,” Highmark says while laughing.” So I refuse to be the girl with the bow.”


The team functions as a whole while in competition, but each player’s distinct personality shines separately. These “trademark personalities” make each player’s role equally important in adding to the team unity and are what “[the team] has grown to love each other for,” said senior middle blocker Paige Mittelstaedt.


Sophomore middle blocker, Sonja Markanovich’s knack for doing hair makes her of popular demand on game days among the players, while freshmen Ashley Kastl, Erica Wilson and Alexis Pinson strut their dance moves in an attempt to get the team fired up.


Junior outside hitter, Sarah Reaves’s fake English accent never falls short on getting her teammates to laugh. Sophomore middle blocker, Shawnee John-Bluth contributes with her undeniable cheering force on game days.


“Everyone is capable of bringing something to the court as far as physical presence, but it’s the interpersonal relationships that provide a balance to help us remember why we show up everyday,” Mercer said.

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