(Photo: Courtney Pedroza/WCSN)
After dropping four straight matches, the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils swept the Utah Utes 25-14, 25-17, 25-23.
“It’s great to be home,” ASU junior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell said. “That’s pretty much it. It’s great to be home.”
ASU started out the first set with fire and determination, rocketing out to a 7-1 lead. This forced the Utes to call their first timeout of the set. The Sun Devils did not let up as they extended their lead to 12-3. Junior opposite BreElle Bailey got out to a fast start in the game tallying a quick three kills in her first five attempts. The Utes struggled to find an answer to ASU’s blocking, as they were limited to an early .036 hitting percentage, and the Sun Devils totaled five blocks in the first set.
The Sun Devil offense was diverse in the first set as five players were able to end up with a kill on the set, including freshman middle blocker Jasmine Koonts who saw her first playing time since Washington State and first start since Texas Southern.
“The intent was always to start her until she had a concussion,” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “Our doctors and trainers did a remarkable job with her. We don’t mess around with concussions.”
The second set started out a little tighter as the two teams traded points until the score was knotted up at six a piece. ASU was able to notch a bit of an advantage behind the two kills by freshman outside hitter Lexi MacLean. The Utes were then forced to call their first timeout of the set when the Sun Devils extended the lead out to 13-8. Eventually, the Sun Devils were able to cap the set off by a score of 25-17.
ASU’s defense was shining in the first two sets as it limited the Utes to only 17 kills on 66 attempts. The Sun Devils also forced 16 attack errors, with seven of them coming off Sun Devil blocks. The Sun Devils really impressed by limiting Utah’s sophomore outside hitter Adora Anae to two kills on 21 swings with six errors through the two sets.
“We served at her (Anae) a lot when she was in the front row,” Follette said. “When you have to pass and hit it’s kind of difficult. Right off the bat we did a good job blocking her too.”
ASU got out to another quick start in the third set, pulling in front 8-3. The Utes were able to retaliate and come back to take a 9-8 lead, forcing the Sun Devils to call their first timeout of the set. The surge continued and Utah extended the lead to 12-8 before the Sun Devils broke the nine-point run with two of their own. The Sun Devils continued to rally behind senior middle blocker Whitney Follette, as she helped bring the score even at 13-13 with three kills. ASU was able to take the lead and put a little bit of a gap on Utah, when it moved out in front 18-15. Utah once again though, was able to come back and take a slight edge, up 21-20. The Sun Devils persisted though and ended up winning the set by a score of 25-23.
The next game for the Sun Devils will be Saturday night against the Colorado Buffaloes at 7 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena.
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