(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Tonight, No. 19 Arizona State University takes on No. 18 Arizona in a clash between the in-state rivals. This will be the Sun Devils’ first Pac-12 match of the season, to kick off the grueling conference schedule. The game is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. in the McKale Center. ASU went 2-1 over the past weekend with the loss coming from No. 7 Colorado State, which was a tough five-set loss.
ASU will be on the road the entire week and will be without the assistance of junior middle blocker Whitney Follette. Follette’s return date is still unknown and either freshman middle Kwyn Johnson or junior middle blocker Andi Lowrance will be filling in at the second middle blocker spot.
The Sun Devils look to try to improve their record to 11-2, with their only non-conference losses coming from unranked Louisville and No. 7 Colorado State. The Wildcats, on the other hand, look to improve their record to 12-1 with their only loss coming to No. 2 Texas.
What to Watch For
Over the past weekend, junior middle blocker Mercedes Binns in her first weekend at the starting spot had a total of 28 kills and 9 total blocks. Binns made the switch from second middle blocker to first middle blocker and she has not disappointed yet.
Binns’ production is not only because of her ability to get kills but also because of freshman libero Halle Harker’s improvement. Harker has not only been getting digs, but she places her digs where junior setter Bianca Arellano can set Binns. Harker has 158 digs on the season and her 3.67 digs per set helps the hitters get more quality attack attempts.
There is going to be a lot of back and forth play between both teams. There is talent on both sides of the net, but the University of Arizona is one-dimensional. Arizona normally sets their star outside hitter Madi Kingdon who has 216 kills on the season which is more than double than the player who has the second most kills on the team. The Sun Devils will be prepared, most likely lining up junior outside hitter Macey Gardner and Binns with Kingdon to try to put up the biggest block possible. The Sun Devils will prevail over the Wildcats in four sets and win their first Pac-12 match.