(Photo: Marie Obsuna/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils earned their first home victory sweeping the California Golden Bears 25-22, 25-22, 25-21.The sweep broke a six game losing streak and noted Arizona State’s 10th win of the season.
The Sun Devils hit .337, their highest hit percentage this season. Head coach Stevie Mussie was thrilled to have their best performance at home.
“I was super excited for the girls to be able to play like that in front of their home crowd tonight,” she said. “It’s a big, big deal to be able to do that at home and hit your highest percentage.”
The Sun Devils had three players with double digit kills in the match.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean led the team with 15 kills. Junior outside hitter Oluoma Okaro showed off her accuracy with 14 kills and no errors – hitting .824 on the night. Senior outside hitter Maya McClendon chimed in with 11 kills of her own.
ASU did a great job keeping the Cal out of system in the first set. It was able to accurately hit and take advantage of Cal mistakes, never letting the lead slip. Okaro drilled the final two kills to give the Sun Devils a 25-22 first set victory.
It was a more evenly matched to start to the second set as the Golden Bears began to hit more accurately. Playing through freshman outside hitter Bailee Huizenga helped the Golden Bears keep the score close. Huizenga would finish the match with a team high 11 kills.
Late in the set, the Golden Bears went on a three-point run to tie the set at 22-22 staying in system. However, the conversation dominated on the Sun Devil side of the net. The Golden Bears lack of communication kept them from gaining the lead in the set and ultimately cost them on an error to give ASU the 25-22 set victory.
Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell said communication was a big key to the success but so was the momentum.
“It’s a lot easier to communicate with each other when you feel like you have the control and the momentum the whole time,” K. Pickrell said.
Whatever momentum the second set build was demolished in the third. The Sun Devils committed five errors to give the Golden Bears a 5-1 lead.
They worked their way back from being down 13-8 to eventually take a 17-16 lead. Okaro attributed the energy change to the need to get their first home victory.
“Once we realized we were up 2-0 and this was out opportunity to finally defend our home court I think that’s what kind of triggered in our minds,” Okaro said. “That’s what kind of allowed that switch to come back and finish the game.”
They rode on her back at the end of the set once again. She drilled three kills to cap off the sweep with a 25-21 third set victory.
K. Pickrell controlled the energy of her team. She finished the match with a double double, notching 39 assists and 10 digs.
“She honestly let the hitter do the work. She left the balls off the net and let them kind of move it around,” Mussie said. “She did a nice job of locating the ball and getting everybody involved in the offense.”
The Sun Devils have little time to relish in their victory as they host the Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. MT.