(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
Coming off their first home win last week, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home on Wednesday night as they face the Colorado Buffaloes.
The Sun Devils got a momentous win last week against the California Golden Bears. ASU swept Cal at home last Saturday, which gave the Sun Devils their 10th win of the season, and their first at Wells Fargo Arena.
Now, ASU heads into its last weekend of the season looking to carry on its momentum.
“Any time you get that first win after six losses you’re just hungry,” Sun Devil head coach Stevie Mussie said. “And now we did it at home for the first time, so they’re super hungry.”
The Sun Devils have a good chance to do that on Wednesday, when they face a 13-15 Colorado Buffaloes team that has lost its last four games, and eight of its last nine.
Mussie stressed the objective of not letting this win affect their future play from the players.
“We have to get them rested and get them ready to go for Wednesday,” Mussie said. “Colorado’s a very good team; they’re big, they’re physical and they beat some good teams.”
The Buffaloes do not boast a menacing offense, as they are seventh in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage, and ninth in both kills per set and kills per set.
However, blocking will be where Colorado can gain an edge.
One of the reasons why ASU had such a high hitting percentage against Cal, including junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro’s incredibly efficient percentage of .824, was because the Golden Bears rank last in the conference in blocking.
The Sun Devils will not have that luxury on Wednesday, as the Buffaloes are fifth in the Pac-12 in blocking with 2.42 blocks per set.
In addition to their high hitting percentage, another reason the Sun Devils beat Cal was their ability to shut down the playmaker for the Golden Bears, junior outside hitter Christine Alftin.
ASU limited Alftin to just six kills and a hitting percentage of .083.
The Sun Devils will need to do the same thing to the Buffaloes on Wednesday, but this time to junior setter/opposite Gabby Simpson.
Simpson has seemed to do it all this year for Colorado. She ranks third on the team in kills with 215, and she is second on the team in assists with 477.
If the Sun Devils can shut down Simpson like they shut down Alftin, they could be looking at their first back-to-back wins since mid-September.
“Our mentality is do it for our seniors because our seniors deserve to finish strong,” sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean said. “So hopefully we go into these last two games and get the win for them.”
ASU looks to continue its momentum from its first home win when they face the Colorado Buffaloes at home Wednesday night at 8 p.m. MT.