(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) travel to Tucson, Arizona to take on the Arizona Wildcats (8-4) for both teams conference opener. The Pac-12 will be one to watch for, as six of the teams in the conference are ranked in the top 25. Second only to the Big 10’s eight.
And what better way to kick off a notable conference than with an in-state rivalry? The first edition of this year’s rivalry takes place at the McKale Center, at the University of Arizona. This atmosphere will be unfamiliar territory for many of the Sun Devils, including new head coach Stevie Mussie.
The team features six freshmen, as well as four transfers. This means that this rivalry game will be the first for 10 of the 17 players on the Sun Devil roster.
Despite the inexperience with the Pac-12 on the roster, the team’s confidence is high heading into the big match.
“I still think we can be great,” senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell said. “We’re coming into this conference play as true underdogs and I really hope that we can capitalize on that; and I know we can.”
Senior outside hitter Maya McClendon, one of the transfers on the team, is ready for her first Arizona – Arizona State rivalry game.
“It’s indescribable,” McClendon said. “Rivalries, to me, are the most fun time of the year; I’m really excited for us to go in and upset some Wildcats.”
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
On the other side of the net, two Wildcats to watch are senior setter Penina Snuka and sophomore outside hitter Kendra Dahlke.
Snuka leads the team with 391 assists, and Dahlke is first on the team in kills with 168, and is tied for first on the team with 29 blocks.
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
The Sun Devils will lean on the shoulders of Pickrell, as well as junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro. Okaro and Pickrell rank first and second on the Sun Devils with 140 and 134 kills, respectively.
Another important piece to the Sun Devil offense is sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell, who leads the team with 266 assists.
After an up-and-down non-conference schedule, Arizona State looks to start conference play strong and gain some momentum with its game against Arizona.
Tonight’s game will start at 7:00 P.M, and will be streamed live on the Pac-12 Network.