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Ashley West Serves Up Details About Utah Volleyball Teammates In Podcast

May 9, 2024, 10:29 AM

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West is the host of Utah Volleyball's podcast, "The Serve". (Photo Cred: Utah Athletics)

(Photo Cred: Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – Ashley West isn’t just an outside hitter for Utah volleyball, she also hosts a podcast, “The Serve” where she introduces fans to her teammates.

The idea for the show came about when assistant director of creative video Tariq Speights hit West up about trying something a little different. West, who has an interest in becoming a sports broadcaster or journalist after graduating was all in.

It’s been a slower process than expected, but “The Serve” has done well enough that other sports within Utah Athletics have taken notice and deployed their own version.

 

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Ashley West Introduces Fans To Utah Volleyball In ‘The Serve’ Podcast

After her initial discussion with Speights, West says they began shooting episodes last September and knew pretty early they had something special.

“I thought it was a cool idea,” West said. “We started our first episode- I’d say at the beginning of last September. The first interview I did was with one of the girls who used to be on the team, but transferred out and was one of my best friends. It went really easily- super smooth. We had a lot of fun with it.”

Looking ahead to her future after volleyball, West is excited about the experience she’s gaining from doing “The Serve”. Unfortunately, an injury for West slowed the process of filming episodes last season, but she is picking back up this spring and believes she will have everyone including the coaching staff done by summer.

 

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“It gives me a lot of good experience behind the camera, running interviews and learning how to be more professional about that instead of winging it,” West said. “We originally wanted to do an episode every week, but as we got into season, I had surgery- we couldn’t push episodes as quickly as we thought we were going to be able to. Especially since the team was travelling.”

Knowing that her model has piqued the interest of other sports within Utah Athletics is something West takes a lot of pride in, but also admits sparks the competitive side of her that wants her version to be the best one.

“I think it’s really cool,” West said. “Knowing something that I want to do from my own interests and my own love for that industry and knowing it hasn’t even been going on for a year and it’s made an impact on others is kind of inspiring. It inspires me to want to come up with even cooler ideas. The competitiveness comes out in me because I want ‘The Serve’ to still be the best. It opens up a new pathway for more ideas, more episodes and getting more and more creative.”

Some Of Ashley West’s Favorite Serves So Far

So far, West has a few early favorite interviews she’s done. One such interview just recently dropped with incoming freshman Levani Key-Powell who also happens to be the daughter of Utah football defensive end coach Lewis Powell.

“She graduated early in December so she could come do spring with us,” West said. “Summer will technically be the start of her freshman year. We just had a really great conversation because I was able to get to know a lot about her that I don’t think anyone on the team knew. She talks about a lot of stuff with her family and her interests outside of volleyball were nothing like what I thought they would be.”

Senior Kamry Bailey has been another interview that stood out to West simply because of how open her teammate was about very personal aspects of her life.

“I walked out of it knowing a lot more about her,” West said. “She talked a lot about her family. She talked a lot about her morals and religious beliefs which was cool. I didn’t think she was going to open up about that.”

All five episodes and counting of “The Serve” can be found on Utah volleyball’s X and Instagram accounts as well as West’s Instagram. Eventually there will be a link to YouTube for every episode.

Utah Volleyball Hungry For A Bounce Back Year

2023 was not the best season for Utah volleyball who has historically been a pretty good team. West says the Utes are antsy to show last year’s 11-19 record isn’t who they are in 2024.

“I think we are all just very hungry,” West said. “We didn’t really have the best season that we wanted to have last year. Our theme for this offseason training is to just really invest in each other as humans and not athletes and help translate that to the court. We’re all pretty fed up with hearing about how bad our season was. All of us are ready to go out and perform. We have a big senior class and I know they aren’t going to go down without a crazy fight.”

An exciting aspect to the lead up to Utah’s 2024 season is their impending trip to Europe- specifically Milan, Zagreb, and Athens that will take place in June.

West says the team’s excitement is through the roof and anticipates it will really bring them together ahead of their first season in the Big 12.

“I think I can speak for the entire program that is going is that everyone is so stoked,” West said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never been off the continent. I think that goes for a lot of girls on our team. A lot of girls haven’t gone to Europe. I think because of that, it’s going to be a super cool experience to be together as a team. We’re all going to be experiencing brand new things for the first time together which I think is going to give us the ability to create really cool memories.”

The Utes will once again be led by Beth Launiere- the one coach who has been at Utah longer than head football coach Kyle Whittingham (35 to Whitt’s 30).

It’s that experience and longevity that West respects most about Launiere, calling her coach one of the most connected people she’s ever met.

“[Beth] is so connected in the world of volleyball, the world of recruiting, the world of how to get a job outside of volleyball,” West said. “She is more connected than anyone I’ve ever met. The list just goes on. For me- every day, every time I interact with her, I just try to soak it up and ask questions. Create a relationship with her. She’s an incredible person and an even more incredible coach. She knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s seen it all. She’s coached All-Americans. She’s really seen it all and that’s why I have an immense amount of respect for her. I don’t think I’ve met anyone else in the volleyball world in my career that has as much knowledge as she does.”

Ashley West Blazes Own Path In Extremely Athletic Family

West comes from an extremely athletic family.

Her father, Derek, played for Colorado football in the ’90s and was part of the Buffs’ National Championship year in 1990. West’s mother, Khara, played softball for Nebraska and West’s sister, Jordan followed a very similar path playing softball for Colorado State.

“It gets super competitive,” West said. “I could sit here and say that everyone gets cutthroat for each other and that’s not really it. We love each other’s competitiveness. My sister Jordan and I played softball together- that was cool, and it showed up in different ways I guess you could say. We were competitive, but the second we realized our inspiration for sports, and our drive, and I guess our ‘why’ as to playing sports at such a high level is different- we were able to grow a level of respect for each other.”

 

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Despite also following in the softball footsteps of her mom and sister, West says she eventually got burned out with the sport by her junior year of high school. At that point, West had only played volleyball here and there, but nothing too serious.

“I was terrified to tell my mom and sister,” West said. “My sister had just committed to Colorado State, my mom played at the University of Nebraska. Playing competitive sports is really expensive, but once I made that decision my parents were super supportive.”

West decided to lean into volleyball and found club coaches that believed in her natural ability to be really good. Ultimately, her club coaches’ instincts about her ability were right and she was recruited by Utah.

 

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These days, West enjoys being the sole expert of her sport in her family.

“Once I devoted my time fully to volleyball- I just loved it,” West said. “I love the gym, the atmosphere of the teams- feeling I get stepping out on the court is something I can’t compare to anything else. Me being the only volleyball player in the family is kind of refreshing.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Ashley West Serves Up Details About Utah Volleyball Teammates In Podcast