(Photo: Zac Pacleb/WCSN)
As we enter the thick of the Pac-12 conference season, with Arizona State volleyball yet to establish itself as either a top-tier team or a bottom-feeder at exactly .500 in conference (3-3), it’s reached time to ask some of the tougher questions. After over a month of sitting out due to a burst appendix, junior middle blocker Whitney Follette has been cleared by medical trainers to play. But should she play?
We have our experts here to break it down for you, but the problem is, they disagree on this. Below is Troy Lynch’s take on the matter. You can read Zac Pacleb’s take on the matter here. Both are experts, but only one can be right. Don’t miss the video debate either, which can be found at the bottom of the article.
-WCSN volleyball co-editor Trey Lanthier
Troy Lynch: Some might say, if the Sun Devils are playing the No. 3 team in the nation, then you have to play Follette. But is that the right decision?
Follette is one of the best middles in the game, but should head coach Jason Watson take the risk of having her play poorly against No. 3 Washington? No, Follette is not yet comfortable playing against some of the better teams in the conference.
“I know Washington is a big game. I’m just ready for anything,” Follette said. “I think I’ll be comfortable. I think I’ll be ok. I don’t know.”
This statement made by Follette creates a lot of confusion because she says she’s ready but is not sure if she will be “ok.” Follette is not yet at 100% and has said that she cannot jump as high as she can at full health. Follette has been limited during practices for the past week and still continues to struggle with fatigue. She participated in 6-on-6 warm up drills before the Stanford match on Oct. 12 and Follette was not the same. Although she did put some balls away, she was late to a lot of blocks and could not move as quickly as she used to.
During Follette’s absence, junior middle blocker Andi Lowrance has been filling in. Lowrance has been doing quite well putting up impressive numbers with 59 kills, 25 total blocks, and has a hitting percentage of .346, which is the highest on the team. Lowrance continues to improve each week, even though she is not the “go-to” middle as the M2, as she put up 9 kills and only 1 error against No. 1 Stanford mainly on slides that rarely can be stopped.
The Sun Devils almost shocked the world on Sunday, playing well against the best team in the nation and taking a game off of them. The Sun Devils can play with the best teams, but the risk is too high to put Follette in and lose a game. If ASU is serious about beating Washington on Friday they need to have Lowrance in and maybe let Follette play against an unranked team, like Washington State, to try to get her back into her stride and to help her regain her confidence.
Be sure to also check out the video debate between WCSN volleyball reporters Zac Pacleb and Troy Lynch.