(Photo: Jacob Franklin/WCSN)
The Arizona State volleyball inconsistencies got the better of them on Saturday. Their undefeated record in five sets came to an end as they lost to the Utah Utes 25-22, 14-25, 27-25, 25-15, 11-15.
The Utes improved to 11-2 on the season and remained undefeated against Pac-12 competition while the Sun Devils are 0-2 in the conference and 7-7 on the season.
Senior outside hitters Maya McClendon and Cassidy Pickrell both recorded double-doubles in the loss with kills and digs.
During the start of the first set, it was clear that both teams were getting a feel for each other. Kill attempts went to the backline or to the outside resulting in unforced errors for both teams.
Then the Sun Devils stepped up their game. They put up a strong defensive wall at the net that got in the heads of the opposition. The Utes tried to match the Sun Devils’ intensity, but were not working together as a unit.
Arizona State found the holes and took advantage of going on multiple runs. They also limited junior outside hitter Adora Anae to only three kills on 12 attempts.
The Utes tried to fight back but they got the best of themselves. They committed eight unforced errors that timeouts couldn’t fix. Fittingly, a service error by Anae sealed the 25-22 first set victory for Arizona State.
Utah opened the second set with the rallying mentality that would ultimately get them the victory. They quickly jumped out at a 6-3 lead.
ASU brought it within one at 7-8 but that is as close as they would come.
The Sun Devils offense was shut down put up a mere seven points the rest of the way due to the Utes offensive dominance.
They spread the ball around the court as six different players recorded kills in the second half of the set. Anae recorded six kills in the set that Utah eventually won 25-14.
Utah started the third set much like the second as it went on a 4-0 run, but the Sun Devils came back to tie it at 8-8. The set would continue with an exchange of points.
The Sun Devils broke the 17-17 tie with kills by four different players.
Three more Utah errors brought the set within match point. The Utes called a timeout to plan their strategy.
Coming out of the break they came out with three straight points to tie it up at 24-24. The Utes stopped another ASU match point, but the third attempt would be the last, as McClendon’s sixth kill of the set gave the Sun Devils the 27-25 win.
The fourth set was the turning point in this match. Utah nailed kills in the gaps of the Sun Devils’ defense and capitalized on three straight Sun Devils errors to jump out to a 9-1 lead.
The Utes gained the lead and never let it slip. The Utes had officially gained the momentum and forced a fifth set with a 25-15 victory.
The fifth set was an exchange of points with a few short runs by each team. Each team would rally back as they had in the previous sets.
The score was 10-10 before the set changed. Utah won five of the final six points to win the set hitting every point of attack. Junior outside hitter Eliza Katoa nailed two kills, then the Utes added a block, and an ace by freshman libero Brianna Doehrmann.
The Utes won the set 15-11 and the match 3-2. The true player of the game for the Utes was their freshman setter Bailey Choy, who tallied 40 assists, because she was a constant base for the team as they battled against a relentless Sun Devil team.
Next, Arizona State finally returns to Tempe. The Sun Devils home opener will take place on Friday in Wells Fargo arena against the 9-2 Oregon Ducks.