(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
Arizona State took on Harvard and Long Beach State to close out the LBSU Baden Invitational. The Sun Devils swept the Crimson 25-16, 25-17, 28-26 and defeated Long Beach State in five sets 30-28, 25-20, 14-25, 17-25, 19-17.
In the first set, the Sun Devils dominated.
Harvard began the set with an ace by senior setter Corinne Bain.
Then senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell quickly struck back with a kill and ace to give the Sun Devils a lead they would never relinquish.
Arizona State dominated the offensive attack. C. Pickrell drilled five kills in the set to give her team the 15-10 lead.
A sense of urgency set in for the Crimson resulting in six errors and allowed senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro to take advantage.
She hit .714 throughout the set and was responsible for four of the seven final points for the Sun Devils. She led Arizona State to the 25-16 set victory.
The second set began in a much more competitive fashion than the first. Sophomore setter Caroline Pearson scored the first point for both teams with an ace and a service error.
The two teams traded points until the Crimson tied it at 5-5 due to an attack error by sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean.
That was as close as they would come as sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Koonts and freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic controlled the rest of the set. Each drilled four kills the rest of the way, and suddenly the Sun Devils had a 20-12 lead.
Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell set up Jeremic for the winning kill. The Sun Devils won 25-17 and took a 2-0 match lead.
The third set was point for point with the greatest lead being two, which occurred 10 times, with eight lead changes.
Each team continued to work against themselves as 11 of each team’s points came on errors.
The Crimson held the advantage most of the match led by junior outside hitter Paige Kebe and junior middle blocker Caroline Labanowski with four kills apiece. While the Sun Devils were led by C. Pickrell who had six kills in the set.
Harvard came within one point of victory twice, but was unable to push through the Sun Devil defense led by C. Pickrell with 13 digs.
The Sun Devils rallied and set up their match point. An ace by C. Pickrell sealed the match and completed the sweep with a 28-26 third set victory.
The entire first set had nine lead changes with the biggest lead coming toward the end of the set when Long Beach went up 21-18 over the Arizona State.
Okaro led the offensive rebound for the Sun Devils with eight kills.
The Sun Devils led 27-26 when a kill attempt by senior outside hitter Nele Barber looked to have gone wide. However, the call was reversed and said to have been touched by a Sun Devil defender, extending the set.
That did not set back sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean. She drilled two kills and gave the Sun Devils the 30-28 victory.
The inconsistencies for Long Beach State only became more apparent in the second set.
The home team committed eight momentum-killing errors. The most notable error came on a poor decision by freshman middle blocker YiZhi Xue to attempt a kill. C. Pickrell and Okaro easily blocked the attempt.
An exchange of points occurred constantly. As soon as the Sun Devils would start to formulate a run, they would commit an error. They totaled seven unforced errors in the second set.
However, sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell setting up freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic proved to be the winning combination for the Sun Devil offense. The two connected for seven points.
The Sun Devils broke the 16-16 tie and won nine of the next 13 points.
Arizona State won the second set with a K. Pickrell to Jeremic back line kill and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the match.
Any momentum the Sun Devils had gathered by winning two in a row was completely demolished in the third set.
The set started the same as the first two, until Long Beach went on a four-point run and took a 7-3 lead. Arizona State was forced to take a timeout.
The timeout was ineffective. The 49ers won seven of the next nine points while the Sun Devils could not stop committing errors. They had a total of eight in the set.
Freshman outside hitter Hailey Harward was the offensive surge that was missing for the 49ers in the first two sets. She recently made the move from libero to outside hitter. This clearly impacted the offense by putting her a position to put points on the board. She had four kills and a block in the third.
Long Beach extended their lead to 14-5 before another timeout was called by Arizona State.
The match regained the point for point fashion of earlier sets, but Arizona State was too deep in the hole. The 49ers won the set 25-14 on a service error by junior libero Halle Harker.
The Sun Devils looked promising to start the fourth set as they took an early 5-3 lead.
Then the errors began again. Long Beach went on a four point run taking a 7-5 lead as a result of three Arizona State errors.
The Sun Devils managed to bring it within one, being down 14-13, until K. Pickrell hit the serve into the net followed by an attack error by senior outside hitter Maya McClendon. K. Pickrell committed three of the Sun Devils eight fourth-set errors.
Barber led Long Beach with six kills and an ace in the set and helped them to a 9-4 run. The 49ers won the match 25-17 and forced a fifth set.
The fifth set was a battle for both teams. The teams exchanged points until the ASU went on a run and lead 5-2.
Just as Arizona State gained momentum, an error would rip it away. These errors kept the game close. The only other three-point lead occurred at 10-7 followed by another service error.
When it came to the end of the set, it was the 49er’s defense that gave them the advantage. Three blocks gave them the 14-12 lead and one point away from victory.
A Jeremic kill followed by a block tie the game at 14-all. Long Beach had one more attempt at winning the game but was stopped by a C. Pickrell kill.
It took the Sun Devils three tries but they final broke the 49ers defense. Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Maclean drilled the game-winning kill.
Arizona State won the set 19-17 and defeated Long Beach 3-2. They finish the LBSU Baden Invitational going 2-1.
Next up for the Sun Devils: on Friday, the 6-3 team travels to Boise Idaho for the Boise State Classic to face Santa Clara and Portland State.