(Photo: Hannah Franklin/WCSN)
In the wake of the losing senior outside hitter Macey Gardner for the season and junior opposite Kizzy Ricedorff for an undetermined amount of time, head coach Jason Watson has been forced to alter his lineup over the course of the last few matches.
Since Gardner went down against Washington, ASU has been trying to find a way to fill the shoes of her production, and that was supplemented by the undisclosed injury Ricedorff is facing.
For Watson, it seems as though the first step in that process is shifting senior middle blocker Whitney Follette from the middle blocker to opposite.
While she has been a middle all throughout her ASU career, Follette is no stranger to playing outside and appreciated the change.
“I played (opposite) my last year of club, year 12,” Follette said. “It’s nice to just do something different. Whether it’s setting or (playing libero), you’re going to go hard at it.”
Given Follette’s prior experience on the outside, it seemed like a natural fit for the Sun Devils, and for Follette, it was a transition she was prepared for.
“I was excited,” Follette Said. “In my mind, I went, ‘Oh, this could be a possibility.’ When he made that switch, it wasn’t mind-blowing to me.”
That ability to seamlessly take on a new role within the offense did not go unnoticed by Watson, who credited her willingness to make the switch.
“Whit, in Whit fashion was like, ‘Yeah,’” Watson said when asked about asking Follette to switch positions. “It was pretty short conversation to be quite honest.”
The decision seemed to be fairly easy one for Watson and the rest of the coaching staff. Watson mentioned Follette’s ability to defend and offensive ability as reasons why they made the switch.
While the position change is certainly an adjustment both physically and mentally, Follette feels as though the transition is going fairly well.
“I think it’s been OK,” Follette Said “In practice, it’s a lot faster, and you get a lot more reps. In a game, it’s less reps but you really need to make them count.”
Follette has been able to do just that. In ASU’s matches against No. 1 USC and No. 10 UCLA, she had 23 total kills and just seven errors. Follette also had 12 total blocks, both of which led the team over those two matches.
Follette spoke about how she needed to maintain focus on the more technical aspects of her in those two matches game to make the transition smoother.
“Every single ball and every single set, I need to make sure that I’m on the right timing and the right step in my approach so that I can get on the ball,” Follette said. “I think it’s just more mindful in the game. I think I needed to be and I think I’m still working on that.”
While Watson still has some tinkering to do with his lineup over the next few matches, it appears as though Follette has solidified the right side. If she can continue to improve on the numbers she has already put up, it would be incredibly beneficial to the rest of the Sun Devils season.