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ASU Volleyball: Sun Devils drop two of three at Gonzaga Invitational

(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)

The Sun Devils lost to the Portland State Vikings in four sets Saturday afternoon, dropping two of three games this weekend at the Gonzaga Invitational in Spokane, Washington, bring their record to 4-2.

ASU: 3  Nevada: 1

The Devils got off to a rough start in Friday morning’s game, as they dropped the first set to the Nevada Wolfpack 25-23. They didn’t look back after that though, winning the next three sets by a combined 16 points earning their fourth straight win to start the season.

ASU made its presence felt on the front lines, recording a season-high 13 blocks to Nevada’s two. Sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic led the team with three solo blocks, and junior blocker Carmen Unzue added three block assists. Senior Oluoma Okaro led the Sun Devil attack, recording a team-high 20 kills. Jeremic added 16 of her own, and freshman outside hitter Griere Hughes contributed as well, tallying 13 kills and two solo blocks.

Those three players combined for 56 of the team’s 73 points in the winning effort. Junior blocker Peighton De Von led the way for Nevada, putting up 18 kills and 19 points, both team highs. The lone bright spot for the Wolfpack was their dominance in serves, as they recorded six aces to ASU’s zero. Senior outside hitter Madison Foley and sophomore libero Camille Davey each tallied two aces for the Wolfpack in their first loss of the season.

Gonzaga: 3  ASU: 2

ASU suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of the tournament host, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Sun Devils got off to a strong start, winning two of the first three sets and outscoring the Bulldogs by nine in doing so. ASU had a strong showing in the final two sets as well, leading the Zags by one while being five points shy of winning the match in the fourth set.

The Bulldogs rallied to score four of the final five points in the set, and they edged ASU by two to take the decisive fifth set earning their first victory of the season. Freshman outside hitter Sarah Penner led the way for the Zags, with 19 kills and 20.5 total points. Redshirt junior Kaylie Loewen was also huge for the Bulldogs, getting 12 kills and three blocking assists for 13.5 total points.

Despite Gonzaga winning the contest, ASU beat them decisively in aces, blocks and digs. Senior libero Halle Harker recorded a game high 27 digs for the Devils in an impressive defensive effort. Jeremic led the way on offense, with a game-high 22.5 points and 17 kills, which was tied with Okaro for most on the team. Unzue led the way on the frontline, recording 6 block assists and one solo block on the night.

Portland State: 3  ASU: 1

ASU suffered its second consecutive loss Saturday afternoon at the hands of a tough Portland State Vikings squad. The teams split the first two sets, and the Devils led by as much as 9-5 in the third set. The Vikings rallied though, bringing themselves even with the Devils and going on a crucial 5-0 run at the end of the set to take a 2-1 lead. The fourth set was tight. ASU had the score at 23-22, two points away from evening the match. The Vikings shut the door though, scoring three consecutive points to win it in four sets and improve to 4-1 on the season.

The Vikings ran a balanced attack, as they ended up with four players recording at least 10 kills and 10.5 total points. ASU on the other hand leaned heavily on Okaro once again, as she scored over a third of the team’s total points, with game highs of 23 points and 21 kills. Hughes was once again a contributor for the Devils, as she tallied 14 kills and 15.5 points.

Harker once again led the defensive effort for the Devils, recording a game-high 16 digs. Sophomore Caitlin Bettenay led the Vikings with 10 digs closely followed by junior Haley Glass with nine. The Sun Devils will return to action Friday at 10 a.m. against Cal State Bakersfield in Flagstaff, Arizona, their first of three games as part of next weekend’s Northern Arizona tournament.

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