(Photo: Marie Obsuna/WCSN)
After getting their first home win of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils hosted the Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils beat the Buffaloes in four sets, 21-25, 25-16, 26-24, 25-18, to win back-to-back games for the first time since September.
The Sun Devils started off the match with early miscues, with two service errors and three hitting errors, and a kill from junior outside hitter Stephanie Shadley gave the Buffaloes an early 8-3 lead.
The teams traded points to 19-14, before two kills from sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean led ASU on a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to two and force a timeout from Colorado.
The Buffaloes came out of the timeout and scored six of the last 10 points to win the opening set 25-21.
Shadley finished with eight kills on 11 attempts in the first set to lead the Buffaloes. The Sun Devils were led by junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro with four kills.
The second set started in tight fashion, with the Sun Devils holding a slight 8-7 advantage.
Then freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic and sophomore middle blocker Carmen Unzue both got kills to lead ASU on a three-point run.
“We just had a lot of fire,” sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell said. “We switched sides and we started seeing what they were doing and I thought we did a good job of handling them after that.”
The Buffaloes went on a four-point run later in the set, but the Sun Devils answered with a seven-point run of their own to take a 20-12 lead.
“I called my second timeout and said ‘Hey you’re on your own now; it’s your choice whether or not you win or lose this set,’” Mussie said. “They just got after it and it was a nice service run.”
ASU held its advantage from there and took the second set 25-16 to tie the match at one set apiece.
Okaro tallied five kills in the second set, and the Sun Devils hit .250 as a team through the first two sets.
“Mentally we were all there,” MacLean said. “Mentally we were all focused and all had confidence and believed that we could win across the board, so that helped out a lot.”
The third set started close, with the two teams tied at 11. From there, the Buffaloes went on a six-point run, thanks to two service aces from senior libero Cierra Simpson, and took a 17-11 lead.
The Sun Devils responded with four separate two-point runs to tie the set at 23. Then two late kills from Okaro and MacLean finished off the set for the Sun Devils 26-24.
The Sun Devils continued their momentum from the first three sets and started the fourth set with an 8-2 lead.
ASU continued to extend its lead throughout the entire set and won the fourth set 25-18 to take the match three sets to one.
“It was a great group effort by everyone, offensively and defensively,” Mussie said. “To have four hitters in double digits and four diggers in double digits, it was a great night for everybody.”
Jeremic finished with 18 kills and 14 digs for her second double-double of the season. Pickrell also finished with a double-double, with 47 assists and 14 digs, to get her third of the season.
With the win, the Sun Devils improve to 11-20 on the season, and 4-15 in conference play. ASU will end its season on Saturday night when it hosts its in-state rival, the Arizona Wildcats.