(Photo: Kaley Kurowski/WCSN)
When someone looks at an upperclassman on a team that has made the NCAA tournament four straight years, it’s natural to assume that player has postseason experience. However that’s not the case for Arizona State junior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell.
Pickrell came to ASU via transfer from UC Irvine, which was incredibly hard for her.
“It was a difficult decision in the first place,” Pickrell said. “When I commit to something, I want to commit to it fully but Irvine was not the right school for me anymore.”
A big part in that decision was getting to play with her sister, freshman setter Kylie Pickrell again for two more years. As an extension of that, both sisters agree that going to their first tournament together is something very special.
“That’s the coolest thing in the world.” (Cassidy) Pickrell said. “It’s still cool to play with my sister. The fact that we get to share an experience like this is awesome.”
After falling in love with ASU, Pickrell immediately stepped into a huge offensive role, a role which expanded midseason amidst lineup changes and season ending injuries.
Throughout the season, Pickrell has battled with nerves before big matches. Throughout the early part of the season in post-game press conferences, Pickrell would talk about how she got super nervous, and in her eyes, she embraces those jitters.
“Nerves are good when I think about it.” Pickrell said “Nerves mean that you care about something, that it means a lot to you. I think I play best when I’m nervous.”
The nerves were at their fullest upon the selection show. The Sun Devils finished 19-12 and after starting 15-0, they finished 4-12. That record left the Sun Devils hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
It was said throughout the latter half of the season and specifically over the last couple matches that ASU needed to get to at least 20 wins to feel comfortable about it’s chances.
Finishing with 19 and then having to deal with a commercial break after the first half of the bracket was shown, nerves for Pickrell were running high, who with UCI had never to the tournament nor dealt with the stress of a selection show.
“It was nerve-racking for the most part,” Pickrell said. “But at the same time it was still excited because we had a good enough record to be in the tournament.”
ASU head coach Jason Watson praised Pickrell’s work ethic throughout the season as she adapted to life in the Pac-12 on the fly this season.
“You’re starting a transfer that hasn’t had to play in this conference and doesn’t understand just how hard it is day in and day out,” Watson said. “She’s done remarkably well. I think she’s in a good place. I’m excited that she gets to experience something she’s never experienced in her college career.
Pickrell finished the regular season leading ASU in kills with 299 on the year and eclipsed 15 kills five times this season. She also finished tied for the team lead in aces with 25. She will play her first NCAA game Thursday at 4:30 ET. as the Sun Devils take on Florida State in Gainesville.