(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
The Arizona State volleyball team (7-2) will be looking to add three more victories in Arlington, Texas as they compete in the UT Arlington Maverick Classic, their final preseason tournament.
The Sun Devils enter the tournament coming off an impressive showing at the Lumberjack Classic held at NAU. The team dropped just one set the entire tournament as they added three victories against Cal State Bakersfield (3-0), Northern Arizona (3-1), and Utah State (3-0).
As the team secured three wins on the court, several Sun Devil players also stood out in the tournament as senior libero, Halle Harker earned Lumberjack classic MVP. Fellow senior Oluoma Okaro and junior Peyton Grahovac earned all-tournament selections.
Arizona State will be looking to use the momentum from last week’s tournament to add three more wins as they will face Lamar, Houston Baptist and tournament host UT Arlington Sept. 15 and 16.
Lamar: Sep. 15 @ 3:00 P.M.
With a 1-5 record, the Lamar Cardinals look to be one of the easier teams the Sun Devils will face this tournament. Due to a cancellation of the Cardinal Classic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Lamar will be looking to gel as a team as they have only played in six games compared to the nine all other teams in this weekend’s tournament. The Cardinals will be looking to use the two-headed monster of Murielle Hlavac and Ivette Dim to lead the team on both offense and defense.
Sitting at a .147 hitting percentage as a team, Lamar will look for kill-leader Hlavac and assist-leader Haley Morton to lead the offense and score points against a stingy ASU defense led by senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro. Iveete Dim of the Cardinals will be on the opposite side of the net and will be one of the main players needed for Lamar to be successful in the match. Lamar will also look to the tandem of Zahria Scott and Amy Hollowell to assist on the defensive end as they are in the top three on the team in digs.
Houston Baptist: Sep. 16 @ 8:00 A.M.
Coming in at a record of 7-2, the Houston Baptist Bobcats will be a stout test for the Devils at the Maverick Classic. Statically speaking, the Bobcats match up almost evenly with the Sun Devils as they enter with a .246 hitting percentage which is nearly identical to Arizona State’s .250 hitting percentage. Houston Baptist also matches up very evenly on the defensive side as they average 16.3 digs per set and 2.3 blocks per set while Arizona State averages 16.9 and 2.5, respectively.
Houston Baptist relies on the two main stars of the team in Bailey Banks and Jessica Wooten to carry the team as they lead the team in both kills and digs. The dynamic duo will do their best to move the ball across the court with leading assisters Abby Gargus and Madison O’Brien to set up scoring opportunities against Okaro and Carmen Unzue of Arizona State. Houston Baptist will look to counter with middle blockers of their own, as the pair of Blair Gillard and Kayla Davenport lead the team in blocks. The Bobcats hold a slight edge at neutral sites as they enter the tournament with a perfect record of 4-0, while the Sun Devils are close behind with a record of 3-1.
UT Arlington: Sep. 16 4:00 P.M.
With an even record of 5-5, the UT Arlington Mavericks will be looking to push their record over the .500 mark with 3 games during the tournament. The odds are stacked against the tournament hosts as they statistically boast one of the weaker defenses in the tournament with 14.1 digs per set average along with 1.1 blocks per set. UT Arlington has been tested against higher level opponents as they defeated Houston in a 5-set thriller earlier in the season. The Mavericks enter the tournament on a threr-match losing streak and will face a tough test in Arizona State for their final match of the tournament.
ASU will rely on strategic passing from assist leader Shelbie Dobmeier to set up kills for outside hitter Ivana Jeremic and opposite hitter Peyton Grahovac. The Mavericks will be look Zhanelle Geathers and Qiana Canete to put points on the board in effort to keep the Sun Devils in check. The final match for ASU at the Maverick Classic will come down to execution and precision as the team cannot let the fatigue of playing their third match in two days affect their play.
Arizona State will be looking to head into Pac-12 play on a high note as they have a chance to head into their first conference game with a six-match winning streak. The Sun Devils will rely on a team effort and effective play from their stars to be successful in the Maverick Classic, and in their Pac-12 opener on Sep. 21 against rival Arizona.