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ASU Volleyball: Oregon hands the Sun Devils a heartbreaking loss

(Photo: Jacob Franklin/WCSN)

Arizona State opened up its two game home stand to a packed Wells Fargo Arena with a loss against the No. 21 Oregon Ducks 3-2 in a five set match.

“(It) felt great to be back and the crowd helped tremendously tonight. It always helps to have fans out there,” sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean said.

The Sun Devils and Ducks kept exchanging blows and were knotted 15 a piece midway through the first set.

Oregon began to pull away and ultimately won the first set 25-21 behind junior outside hitter Taylor Agost and sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide, who combined for nine kills.

Sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Koonts, senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell, and MacLean had three kills each, but it was the Sun Devil’s nine errors that got the best of them in the first set.

ASU came out firing in the second set, opening it up 12-5.

Oregon fired back and began closing in on the Sun Devils, going on a 10-6 run to make it 18-15.

Arizona State adjusted and cruised to a 25-17 second set win led by a team total five blocks as well as C. Pickrell, MacLean, and freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic combining for nine kills.

After 10 score ties and two lead changes, ASU found themselves down 15-14 when head coach Stevie Mussie called a time out.

Jeremic and C. Pickrell went on to get back-to-back kills along with a couple Oregon errors and Arizona State pulled ahead 19-17.

The Ducks went up 24-21, but sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell and MacLean turned the tables with three kills in a row to tie it up at 24.

It was junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro who forced back-to-back Oregon errors and sealed the third set win for ASU, 26-24.

The Sun Devil’s momentum was short lived as they allowed the Ducks to get out to a 16-6 lead in the fourth set behind sophomore setter August Raskie’s suffocating defense.

K. Pickrell came out for most of the fourth set, hurting ASU’s offense considerably.

Oregon kept on rolling and cruised to a 25-9 fourth set win behind senior middle blocker Kacey Nady’s three kills and five total team blocks.

“When we made a few errors, we started playing timid,” MacLean said. “There’s definitely room for improvement.”

In the fifth and final set, it was the Oregon defense that made it tough for the Sun Devils to get their rhythm back.

“They figured us out in terms of our hitting,” Okaro said. “Some of us were hitting a little bit low, so they would act as if they weren’t there and at the last second, they would press in. For us hitters, we would see an open seam, and at the last second, they would take it away.”

The Ducks led 10-4, putting ASU’s back against the wall.

Ultimately, the deficit was too much for Arizona State to overcome as they fell to the Ducks 15-7 in the deciding set.

“In that fifth set, we got down a few points and we literally let them hit us,” MacLean said. “There was no fight. In those clutch situations, we know what we have to do, we just have to perform.”

ASU’s Okaro, MacLean, and Jeremic combined for 35 kills.

Oregon was led by freshman outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen and Vander Weide who combined for 31 kills to finish the Sun Devils in five sets.

“You have stay mindful throughout the entire match,” Mussie said. “There’s moments that we kind of forget that we’re playing volleyball. We have to remain mindful for two and a half hours. We can play at a pretty high level. The bad thing is that we can’t maintain that for a very long period of time.”

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