(Photo: Trey Lanthier/WCSN)
Just two days after nearly upsetting No. 1 Stanford, the Sun Devils will stay up in northern California to take on the California Golden Bears.
The last time these two teams met was in Tempe, Ariz. and the Bears took a game off the Sun Devils, but eventually fell in four sets.
Cal hasn’t been able to get too hot in Pac-12 play this season, as they are currently on a 12-game losing streak. Unfortunately for them, the Sun Devils are looking to keep their momentum going for the remainder of the season after Wednesday’s statement game.
Slumping for most of conference play, junior opposite hitter BreElle Bailey had one of her best nights of the year on Wednesday. Bailey had ten kills with a .250 hitting percentage. The last time the ASU played Cal, Bailey tacked on 13 kills. However, what really gave the Bears a tough time was the play of junior outside hitter Macey Gardner. Gardner saw most of the sets that night, and put up 21 kills, adding three solo blocks and only three errors to add to her historic resumé.
It was senior outside hitter Christina Higgins who has stepped up for the Golden Bears this season, and currently leads the team in kills with 325. Next on the list is red-shirt junior middle blocker Lillian Schonewise with 225, who had a solid day against ASU during the October meeting, with 9 kills and a .316 hitting percentage.
What to Expect
Expect the game to be outside hitter-oriented. The stars on both teams are outside hitters, and Cal is getting desperate for a win and will want to set their best hitter for the majority of the match. Higgins will see most of the sets, as she should, because she averages 3.78 kills a game.
The Sun Devils will set Gardner a lot, but one of their main focuses will be trying to get the ball to Bailey. With Bailey finding some rhythm against the Cardinal, head coach Jason Watson could look for Bailey to be comfortable and ready for the rest of their conference matches so she can play at her full potential when the nation tournament comes around.
The Sun Devils are not happy after consecutive five-set losses. They will come out focused and ready to play Friday night, as they cannot afford to lose if they want to keep their national tournament dreams alive.
The Bears are worn down, and continuing to deteriorate as evidenced by their twelve match losing streak. But, they have nothing to lose so they will put up a fight, but it will be no match for an ASU team that is on a mission. ASU will defeat Cal in three straight sets.