(Photo: Sun Devil Volleyball)
The Sun Devils have done it again, and maybe it’s finally time to consider the possibility of Arizona State making a deep run in the national tournament. For the sixth time in six 2013 matches, ASU swept its opponent.
Macey Gardner and her teammates dealt a three-set loss to Gonzaga tonight, and Arizona State took another title after sweeping both of their invitationals (La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational, Gonzaga Invitational).
This time around, the victory came tough, particularly in the second set. Gonzaga held on firm and had the lead late, dropping two set-points late to open the door for the Devils. Whitney Follette had two kills late in that set to help propel the team to a 28-26 final score.
“It was a game of runs,” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “I think these are good experiences. We’re in some uncomfortable situations, and we’ve got to make plays and find ways to win. Mercedes made a nice block to end it (set two).”
The first set also featured some dramatic flair, as ASU trailed 23-21 before ending the set on a 4-0 run, led from serves by setter Bianca Arellano.
The third set was a blow-out as the Devils cruised to a 25-16 finish to end the match.
After the game, Macey Gardner was awarded as the Most Valuable Player of the Gonzaga Invitational. Bianca Arellano also made the All-Tournament team.
It may be early in the season, but it’s hard to deny that something special is going on for this volleyball team. The last time they accomplished a perfect 18-set start to the season was in 1995, when Patti Snyder-Park was coaching and Christine Garner was the star of the team.
That ASU team made it to the Sweet 16, the closest that Arizona State has ever come to capturing a volleyball championship. It remains to be seen if this team can make it that far, but one thing is for sure: they’ve gotten off to a great start.
“It gets a little tougher next weekend (against Illinois and Texas), but right now, we’re pretty pleased with our team,” Watson said.
You can reach Trey Lanthier on Twitter @TreyLanthier or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.