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Long Beach State’s Ashley Murray makes natural connection with volleyball

Junior+middle+blocker+Ashley+Murray+looks+to+lead+on+the+court+for+Long+Beach+State+women%27s+volleyball+team.
Junior middle blocker Ashley Murray looks to lead on the court for Long Beach State women's volleyball team.

Junior middle blocker Ashley Murray looks to lead on the court for Long Beach State women's volleyball team.

Trang Le

Trang Le

Junior middle blocker Ashley Murray looks to lead on the court for Long Beach State women's volleyball team.

Miranda Andrade-Ceja, Managing Editor

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Junior Ashley Murray is all niceties at first conversation — it isn’t until she walks on the court that one realizes the middle blocker is an absolute assassin with a volleyball.

Hailing from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, California, the middle blocker’s volleyball roots began in seventh grade.

“I actually started off playing basketball, and our mom was really big on us trying every sport there was,” Murray said. An immediate connection was made after Murray played at a few volleyball camps in her youth, shortly thereafter moving on to club volleyball.

Though Murray’s father encouraged her to stick with basketball, her competitive nature had already created perfect chemistry with volleyball.

Now, Murray’s entering her third year with the LBSU women’s volleyball team. Considered one of the team’s veterans, she isn’t a stranger to working with incoming freshmen and transfer students. Despite this, Murray said that getting in tune with her teammates is always a balancing act.

“We get a lot of new players every year, so that’s a huge challenge for our team,” Murray said. “Getting used to playing with each other when we only have so much time before season actually starts.” Murray said that many of the new players have a difficult time adjusting to the way LBSU volleyball operates.

“The technique we teach here is a lot different than a lot of other schools…” Murray said. “[Brian] has a lot of very specific techniques, the way you pass and the way you hit — so you have to learn that.”

Despite not being the tallest volleyball player, this aggressive style of playing is affirmed by Murray, who said that her presence on the court is often enough to intimidate her opponents.

“And I really feel it, sometimes, when I mess up or if the other team makes a good play against me, they’ll cheer like 20 times harder than they have all game,” Murray said. “I think especially when we get through our warm-ups and they see how athletic I am… they come to the game like: ‘what is she going to do come game time?’”

Murray’s high-intensity doesn’t only factor into the volleyball court, but also in her old flame, basketball. Though she doesn’t have room in her schedule to dedicate herself full-time to the sport itself, Murray prefers to watch the action from behind a camera lens.

Murray has taken sports photos for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team and said that there have been numerous occasions in which an LBSU player will comment on a photo of hers and say that they remember the moment it was taken.

“When I first did [sports photography], I was very timid about it. So I would basically take pictures of everything,” Murray said. “But when I started to get used to it, I realized that it was something I was more passionate about. Because I play sports, so I understand what they’re doing on the court and understand the emotions behind it.”

Though the 2014 Big West freshman of the year’s transition from high school to college didn’t present much difficulty, Murray said last season posed the greatest challenge to her.

“I would get really down on myself, and then I’d start trying to change too much and it would take away from what I can do.” Murray said.

Senior outside hitter Nele Barber and Murray have been sharing the court since Murray started at LBSU in 2014. Barber said that Murray is a strong defender and a key component to the team for both her skill and honesty.

“Personally, I feel like when we have a team meeting, she’ll say what’s going on,” Barber said.

“She just doesn’t hold back her words, she says her opinion and she takes responsibility [for her plays].”

Murray fully intends on sticking with her team for the remainder of her college career, but until then, she hopes to encourage all of her new teammates to take their games one step at a time, and not get bogged down when things don’t go their way.
“We try to tell each other that we can’t stay in ourselves and that we need to get out of it and focus on the next play, the game is still going,” Murray said. “One play is not gonna define how we play for the rest of this game.”

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