(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
Coming into the season, the setter situation seemed unchangeable with already sophomore Kylie Pickrell returning. But, heading into the final week of preseason there are two viable options for the starting spot.
Head coach Stevie Mussie decided to run a 6-2 offense with her setters instead of letting one control the playing time.
The options? Returning sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell and transfer sophomore setter Caroline Pearson.
Last year at ASU, Pickrell was able to garner significant playing time behind former starting setter Bianca Arellano. The two setters ran a 6-2 offense, where Pickrell played in 30 out of the 32 matches totaling 469 assists.
Pickrell was the favorite to win the job coming into this season, being the stand-alone setter left at Arizona State.
While Pearson was at the University of Denver she did not see much time on the court. Over the entire season Pearson played only 20 sets and notched 40 assists.
However, when Mussie become head coach she went out and transformed the roster with new faces.
One of those faces was Pearson.
Pearson did not see any playing time in the first weekend of the year, as Pickrell dominated the court, but when the second preseason tournament came around Mussie surprised everyone by having Pearson take the majority of the time at setter.
Pearson responded well, earning a spot on the Hawkeye all-tournament team.
“When Stevie told me she was giving me the chance to start, I ran with it,” Pearson said. “I did everything off the court I could to prepare myself. When I got out there I tried to tune everything out and not think.”
At first it may have seemed like there was going to have to be a decision made as to who was going to take a majority of the time, but for now it seems as if the Sun Devils are comfortable running a 6-2 system.
So far the system is working well for Mussie, and the two setters are posting nearly identical numbers.
Pickrell has a slight edge in assists with 266, while Pearson has 225, respectively.
“It’s coming down to who is playing best,” Pickrell said. “Now we are coming in every single week and we are battling for those spots. I think it has really helped with practice. It has definitely been a positive thing for us.”
While it seems like the Sun Devils are comfortable running with the 6-2 system, Mussie did not rule out the thought that at some point in the season the offense might be switched back to a 5-1.
“I think there is always room for growth,” Mussie said. “I think there is something to be said for consistency, but at the same time we want to make sure we are doing the best by our athletes and making sure that we are putting the best product out on the floor.”
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Jacob Franklin via Twitter @JFrankSports or via email at email@example.com.