(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils face a must-win matchup against Oregon State on Sunday.
The Sun Devils’ home court advantage could not hault Oregon’s potent offense on Friday as they tallied their fifth loss in a row in five sets on Friday.
The Sun Devils dropped the match, but showed off a fighting mentality. They lost the first set by only by four points. They did a god job spreading the ball around and showcasing the chemistry they worked on in practice this week. In addition, they exhibited their defensive skill and ability to overcome a height disadvantage.
Head coach Stevie Mussie is happy to have her team healthy.
“It’s definitely a different dynamic for us when we’re able to have a few more arms and be in the 6-2 and do some different things offensively,” she said. “For us, it’s a really good thing to have everyone healthy. I don’t think we’ve been this healthy in a little while.”
However, ASU also showed off the inconsistent nature of its game and was blown out 25-9 in the fourth set and committed nine errors. It was surprising that the Sun Devils’ offense rather than defense struggled in the final set. Oregon’s speed put ASU in a difficult spot opening and closing holes quickly.
One thing the match against Oregon proved that Arizona State’s home court advantage is real. A whopping total of 4,901 people from all over turned up to cheer on the Sun Devils. The crowd was electric and assisted in causing unforced errors by the Ducks. The turnout likely won’t be as high as is was for the season opener, but it will give ASU an edge.
The Sun Devils have yet to pick up a win in Pac-12 play and have managed to string together only five sets in three matches. They are desperately seeking a win against another winless Pac-12 team.
Oregon State has surpassed the low expectations that were set for them at the start of the 2016 season. They have already won more games (7) so far than they did all of last year. After posting a demoralizing 6-24 record in 2015, any improvement is a huge for the Beavers.
However, they have not fared well against any good teams. The best team they’ve defeated was a sweep of Wyoming.
When they have faced competitive teams like No. 1 Nebraska, No. 9 Stanford, No. 21 Oregon and South Dakota – they have been easily defeated.
The only player that doesn’t back down against competition is junior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall who is playing the best volleyball of her career. She is currently averaging 4.4 kills per set, which ranks in at 20th in the country.
When her team took a trip an hour south to face No. 21 Oregon, she held the Beavers in tact and even recorded a double-double in the losing effort.
Expect to see that same mentality against the Sun Devils with an all too familiar face on the other side of the court.
Senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell and Marshall attended were friends when they attended Coppell together. They will be facing off on opposite sides of the court for a third time on Sunday.
“I love Mary-Kate. She’s an awesome player and an awesome person,” C. Pickrell said. “I’m looking forward to seeing her and playing her on the court.”
The key for the Sun Devils will be making defensive adjustments on the move to slow down Marshall.
ASU did a great job shutting down Utah’s junior outside hitter Adora Anae in the first set. However, when Anae modified her came and ASU had no rebuttal. Continuously tailoring its strategy on defense will be vital to the Sun Devils picking up their first Pac-12 victory.
The Beavers aren’t bringing any momentum to Tempe as the University of Arizona Wildcats swept them on Friday.
The Sun Devils take on the Beavers at 11:00 a.m. at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday.
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Delilah Cassidy via Twitter @delilah_cassidy or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.