(Photo: Marie Obsuna/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils went on the road to take on the Washington State Cougars on Friday night.
In a tightly contested match that saw a career night from senior outside hitter Maya McClendon, the Sun Devils would leave the city of Pullman after losing to the Cougars in four sets 23-25, 22-25, 25-23, 24-26.
The two teams started with little separation in the opening set. The Cougars held a 14-11 lead before two aces from freshman setter Nicole Peterson led the Sun Devils on a 5-0 run to take a 16-14 advantage.
ASU held a 21-19 lead later in the set before three straight kills from Washington State’s senior outside hitter Kyra Holt gave the lead back to the Cougars.
Holt and sophomore middle blocker Ella Lajos combined for the last six kills for the Cougars, and Washington State took the opening set from the Sun Devils 25-23.
Holt led the Cougars with seven kills and a .400 hitting percentage in the opening set. The Sun Devils were led by McClendon with five kills after the first set.
ASU started the second set with three hitting errors and found itself in an early deficit, trailing 5-1.
The deficit for the Sun Devils was never less than two from that point on, and the Cougars took the second set 25-22.
Hitting errors hurt the Sun Devils, as they totaled 18 errors and a hitting percentage of .112 through the first two sets, compared to only nine errors and a hitting percentage of .247 from the Cougars.
Holt led Washington State with 10 kills through two sets. She also tacked on three digs and four blocks.
McClendon continued her solid game and tallied five more kills in the second set, while fellow senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell was not far behind, posting seven kills and four blocks through two sets for the Sun Devils.
The third set started with the two teams trading points until the score was tied at 16. Then two errors from the Cougars and a block by freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic gave the Sun Devils the largest lead for either team in the set, a 19-16 advantage.
The Sun Devils kept the lead for the remainder of the set, and avoided a straight set loss by winning the third set 25-23.
McClendon and Holt continued to lead their teams in the kills department, McClendon with 17 and Holt with 13 through three sets of play.
The fourth set started with little separation, then kills from Jeremic and C. Pickrell led ASU on a 3-0 run to give it a 13-9 lead.
Kyra Holt had two kills that led the Cougars on a 6-0 run later in the set and Washington State took the lead 20-19.
The Sun Devils answered back with a 4-0 run of their own, thanks to a kill from McClendon and a service ace from sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell, and took the lead 23-20.
Eventually up 24-21, the Sun Devils came within one point of forcing a decisive fifth set.
However, the Cougars responded with a 5-0 run, capped off by two consecutive blocks by sophomore outside hitter McKenna Woodford and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Mims, to win the set 26-24 and win the match three sets to one.
Holt finished the match with 17 kills, eight digs and five blocks for the Cougars.
Despite the loss, McClendon set a new career high in kills with 24. Her previous high of 21 kills was set on Sept. 6th, 2014, when McClendon was just a sophomore and played for the University of Louisville.
McClendon was also extremely efficient on the night, posting a hitting percentage of .477.
After falling to Washington State, ASU’s record falls to 9-18 on the season, and 2-13 in Pac-12 play. The loss also pushes ASU’s losing streak to four games. The next game for the Sun Devils comes on Sunday, when they face a tough road challenge in the No. 11 Washington Huskies.