(Photo: Trey Lanthier/WCSN)
The No. 20 Arizona State volleyball team quickly turns around after two weekend matches to play a pair of mid-week games, with the first of them coming on the road against the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils will try to upset and hand the Cardinal their first loss of the season in this tilt.
It has been an inconsistent conference season for ASU so far, most notably on Sunday where they mustered a comeback and forced a fifth set against Colorado and had a chance to complete a weekend sweep. Another slow start to a set led to their demise, a 16-8 record (6-6 Pac-12) and another weekend split.
With the road ahead not getting any easier in a very competitive conference, the Sun Devils need to create more point-scoring opportunities if they want to come out of some of these matches with victories. The inconsistency and struggle to find an offensive rhythm will need to be corrected and quickly in the home-stretch of their schedule as their top-25 ranking is slowly slipping away. It all starts with an upset of Stanford, which they have not done since 2000.
Stanford looks the part as best team in the nation, staying flawless thus far on the year while completely dominating teams such as the No. 11 Oregon Ducks this past weekend, sweeping them soundly. That was not just any Oregon team, this squad was No. 12 and having a great season. The dominance of the Cardinal in this match just emphasizes how impressive this lineup really is. The 22-0 start by Stanford is its best start to a season since 1991 and they show no signs of slowing down.
– Sophomore right side hitter BreElle Bailey vs the Stanford defense
Bailey has been struggling a bit in the Sun Devil offense, accounting for only four kills on 16 swings and two attacking errors during the match against Colorado before she was subbed out for freshman Madison McDaniel. She will have to come into this match and play much better to give her team a chance at the victory, and it all starts with offense. The stellar Cardinal defense is not doing her any favors, out blocking Oregon 8-3 in their last match. If Bailey can get some hits over the net and past the talented Stanford front, it will give ASU a fighting chance.
– Redshirt freshman middle blocker Merete Lutz vs the Sun Devil defense
Lutz is one of the most efficient hitters in the country, tallying a hitting percentage of .468 on the season, including 10 kills in the last match-up between these two teams earlier in the season, in which Stanford came out victorious in four sets. The ASU defense will have its hands full but they are capable of stopping the Stanford offense when they are clicking on all cylinders, as shown in the first set of the last match when they held the Cardinal to only ten kills throughout the entire set.
They ended up winning the set and taking an early lead on the match, and they will have to do the same thing in today’s match. Getting out to an early lead is very important and necessary to give them the confidence to play the same way through the other sets.
The Sun Devils will get out to a fast start but the efficient offense of Stanford will be too much to handle in the later sets, as it is nearly impossible to limit the hitters for the entire match. They will eventually break through and make the Sun Devil defense pay on their way to a four set win.