(Photo: Kaley Kurowski/WCSN)
After coming off two wins last weekend, the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils will look to snag another win over No. 7 Stanford this Wednesday night in Palo Alto to open up the second half of Pac-12 play.
The Sun Devils seemed to figure out their rhythm on offense in the last two matches against Utah and Colorado. ASU hit at a .194 hitting clip over the weekend, which was vastly more efficient than the previous four games where the Sun Devils had a hitting percentage of .104.
The increase in efficiency is coming from an increasing level of comfort with the new rotation. The biggest move that was made was moving senior middle blocker Whitney Follette to opposite. Follette has shined in her new position, taking a bulk of the Sun Devil offense. In three of her four starts at right side, Follette has recorded double-digit kills including a season-high 13 kills on 34 swings against No. 1 USC.
“She’s making us look silly in that we probably should have done it sooner. ” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “She is playing really well.”
In tandem with Follette, junior opposite BreElle Bailey has hit a nice streak of form. Bailey has recorded double-digit kills in two of the previous four matches, including her season-high 16 kills against Colorado. These two right sides have changed ASU from an outside heavy offense into an opposite heavy offense.
Against Stanford, it will be the Sun Devil defense that is going to have to rise to the occasion. Stanford has size, experience, and knowledge at its disposal when it comes to offense. One of the biggest challenges that ASU will face is 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore middle blocker Merete Lutz. Lutz is third on the Cardinal team in kills with 191 on the season, and she is averaging 3.13 kills per set, which is good for second on the team.
“I don’t know what the matchup is going to look like,” said Watson. “She’s (Lutz) going to get her kills. She did when we played them last time. For us, its can we put some pressure on them so they can’t set her.”
This Stanford team is playing really good volleyball as well, coming off a big Pac-12 win against No. 5 Washington.
ASU’s defense will definitely have a tough challenge, but the Sun Devils are used to having success up front when it comes to containing offenses. The Sun Devils are 10th in the nation in blocks per set, averaging 2.98. That will definitely be a matchup to keep an eye on in the match.
If you have any questions or comments, you can reach Jacob Franklin via twitter @Jacob_Franklin4 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.