(Photo: ASU Athletics)
After losing their first two matches of the season last week, the Washington Huskies let those losses set a fire within them as they swept the Arizona State Sun Devils (25-19, 25-11, 25-19).
The first set was close up until the score was tied 17-17. The Sun Devils were leading the entire set until the Huskies found a hole in the Sun Devil defense. The Huskies started to break away when their tips started falling, and the Sun Devils had no answer on how to pick it back up, dropping the first set 19-25.
The second set is where Washington started to break away. They found their blocking rhythm as they went on a 5-1 point run as they had 6 blocks in the set. As the Sun Devils started to struggle, they tried to rely on junior outside hitter Gardner to put the ball away. The Washington blockers shifted closer to her and made her day a struggle. Washington was not done there, as the Huskies consistently mixed up their shots either hitting the ball hard or throwing up a roll shot. It was an uphill battle from that point on for the Sun Devils as they fell behind by 14 points and lost the second set 25-11.
Junior outside hitter McKenzie Willey did not start for the Sun Devils, as freshman Madison McDaniel saw the starting nod at outside hitter. Unfortunately for head coach Jason Watson, McDaniel did not bring the offensive production that he was looking for as McDaniel had zero kills on ten attempts with 2 errors to finish her day. But Watson was not done there as he pulled McDaniel after two sets and put in junior middle blocker Andi Lowrance as an outside hitter to finish the match.
Reigning NCAA Player of the Year Krista Vansant definitely played like her title as she played extremely well throughout the three sets, leading the team in kills with 15, equalling a hitting percentage of .481 and added 5 blocks. It wasn’t just Vansant who was playing well, as the whole unit stepped up around her.
Vansant, middle blocker Melanie Wade, and outside hitter Kaleigh Nelson had hitting percentages over .475 making their team hitting average .376, while the Sun Devils had a hitting percentage of .090. With their dominance Washington went up 22-11, and It looked like Washington was going to take the third set easily, but the Sun Devils decided to show up at the end and brought the score back within five. It was too late however, as the Huskies finished off the match 25-19 and are now 27-2 on the season.
The No. 22 Sun Devils are now 8-10 in conference play and hope to beat UCLA on Wednesday night and in-state rival University of Arizona on Friday night in Tempe this Thanksgiving week.