(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils (8-14, 1-9 Pac-12) hit the road to face the Oregon State Beavers (8-13, 1-9 Pac-12) on Friday.
The Sun Devils are hunting for redemption after being swept by the Beavers at Wells Fargo Arena earlier this season. Oregon State was the only team picked to finish behind ASU in the Pac-12 preseason poll.
Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell looks to capitalize on the opportunity to face the Beavers again.
“We know what they’re capable of,” K. Pickrell said. “Let’s refresh on that and make the big focus what we can do on our side of the net to make sure we are beating them.”
The Sun Devils lost their last three matches in sweeps to ranked opponents (No. 12 Stanford, No. 18 Washington State, No. 7 Washington). The later two losses were because of error-plagued play.
In the two matches in Tempe, the Sun Devils combined for a .058 hit percentage with 19 service errors and only two aces. They remain the only Pac-12 team hitting under .200 on the season.
This week in practice they have been working on improving accuracy.
“We’ve been doing a lot of hitting progressions,” senior outside hitter Maya McClendon said. “[We] really emphasized on hitting the ball in… just really focusing on being aggressive and hitting it in.”
The Beavers look to end their six-game losing streak and take advantage of a shaky Sun Devil team. Oregon State was able to come away with one set apiece against the Washington schools and took Utah to five sets since they last saw Arizona State.
Other than when facing UCLA, junior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall has shined as a leader and on the stat sheet. She’s second in the Pac-12 averaging over four kills per set. Additionally, she helps her team rally back when trailing in sets and consistently motivates them on the court.
Sophomore outside hitter Lanesha Reagan and junior setter Sam Rouleau have both broken loose since the Beavers visit to Tempe.
Reagan has been identifying and attacking angles of the opposition. Rouleau has been trusted with more responsibility and has exceeded expectations. The recent community college transfer has proven to be a stable setter option alongside sophomore setter McKenna Hollingsworth.
Although they have a strong offensive attack, the struggle on defense is constant for OSU.
The Beavers rank just above Arizona State in hitting percentage allowed in the Pac-12. Despite their height advantage – nearly two thirds of the team is taller than six foot – they continue to struggle with blocking. An undersized Arizona State team has more block assists and total blocks than Oregon State.
Arizona State will need to take advantage of the weak Beaver blocking and be accurate with its swings.
“If we can keep [eliminating unforced errors] as our focus, I think we should be fine going through the weekend,” K. Pickrell said.
The match is at 7 p.m. at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon on Friday night.
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Delilah Cassidy via Twitter @delilah_cassidy or via email at email@example.com.