(Photo: Ryan Bafaloukos/WCSN)
The No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils will continue their road trip this week, traveling to Colorado and Utah to play the Buffaloes and Utes. The unranked Buffaloes will host the No. 17 Sun Devils at 6:00 p.m. at the Coors Event Center tonight at 5 p.m.
The Sun Devils are coming off a roller coaster week with a loss from the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats and then beating the No. 9 USC Women of Troy in the Galen Center for the first time since 1995.
“We just played frantic against Arizona.” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “We definitely calmed down against USC and played better on our side of the net for longer.”
Junior outside hitter Macey Gardner led the strike with a team leading 57 kills the last two matches. “When you look at performances like Macey’s, they are definitely unique. She’s not surprising people, because they know we are going to set her the ball.” Watson said.
Even though the Buffaloes are unranked, they are a talented team and pushed No. 13 University of Oregon in a four set loss.
What to watch for
Expect a good match. The Buffaloes have proven that they can play with some of the best teams, and unranked teams have given the Sun Devils trouble in the past.
The Buffalos run a 6-2 rotation, keeping an opposite in the front row the whole match while using their two aggressive setters, freshman Gabby Simpson and junior Nicoke Edelman, who do a good job running their uptempo offense. Both sides of the net have powerful hitters who have the capability to put the ball away at will, including Colorado’s senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson.
But with the Sun Devils are finding their defensive groove, so that will make it harder for Colorado to find empty space on the court. ASU freshman libero Halle Harker has made great strides since the beginning of the season. The past two matches Harker has had at least 20 digs and 4.44 digs a set, and she has done a great job leading the defense. The more balls Harker digs, the more chances the Sun Devils have to get kills. With two stellar performances against two ranked teams, things are only looking up for Harker and the Sun Devils.
The games will be tight but the match will not go to a fourth or fifth set. Colorado will put up a good fight and keep ASU on their toes with their 6-2 offense. Unfortunately for them, the Sun Devils are coming off a huge win against No. 9 USC and show no signs of slowing down. With the defense finding their identity and the hitters constanlty putting the ball away, the Sun Devils will win in three sets.