(Photo: Noah Findling/WCSN)
The No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils completed another undefeated weekend, after another straight-sets sweep over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, winning each set by a score of 25-14.
The Warhawks featured three Arizona natives on their roster: Alannah Cullum and Kayla Kane (both from Phoenix), and Maria Garcia from Glendale.
“[Cullum] played probably better than she’s played all year, go figure,” ULM head coach Patrick Hiltz said. “It was also nice to see Kayla Kane, another local kid, get some full games in.”
ASU has now won 35 of the 38 sets they have played this season, with their only loss coming by way of a controversial loss in five sets to the No. 16 Illinois Fighting Illini.
After a sloppy start that led to a 6-6 score early in the opening set, the Sun Devils closed out the first set on a 7-0 run. Bailey had four kills on 5 attempts, hitting a final clip of .800. She finished the match with seven kills and a percentage of .700.
“Sometimes we start off a little bit low-key,” setter Bianca Arellano said about ASU’s slow starts. “You can’t go to your big guns right away. You have got to hit your middles and stuff early and keep the block honest.”
The second set was all Arizona State, as the Sun Devils led by as much as nine points and were spurred on by Mercedes Binns’ four kills and a solo block.
ASU completed the sweep in the third set, in which seniors Caitlyn Francis and Bethany Jorgensen saw some action. Jorgensen took advantage of her playing time to put away five kills, including the final point of the match.
Junior outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner got onto the court in the final set as well, contributing with four kills of her own.
Macey Gardner led the Sun Devils with eleven kills.
“Last year, it was just a lot of swings, but we got some hitters now.” Gardner said her role change from her freshman campaign to this season. “We got [Bailey] on the right side. Nobody has really been able to stop her. We’ve got [Binns] who’s just been jumping out of the gym, and then you got Kizzy Willey who’s been taking some swings on the outside and doing a great job.”
Pac-12 play begins Tuesday for the Sun Devils, as they take on their in-state rival, the Arizona Wildcats. The Devils split the season series with Wildcats last year, each team coming out victorious in four sets.
“Tuesday is just a different world,” Watson said. “We feel good about being 11-1, but certainly its zero and zero and off we go again.”
“Any night, we can beat anyone,” said Gardner. “Name them in the conference and we’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Arizona State went 9-11 in conference play last year, good enough for a sixth place finish in the Pac-12, but all signs seem to be pointing toward a better record this season after an 11-win non-conference.
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at email@example.com.