(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils (9-15) look put double-digits in the win column this Friday when they host No. 25 USC Friday night.
The Sun Devils came away with a four-set win and loss during their trip to Oregon last weekend. After being swept by the Beavers earlier this season, ASU got revenge and performed well on both sides of the net. Against the Ducks the Sun Devils kept it competitive putting up 20 points in three of the sets.
The trip was essential to getting ASU back on track for the season and showcased the young talent for the seasons to come with terrific performances by freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic and freshman setter Nicole Peterson.
Jeremic was shut down by the Beavers in the first set, but didn’t lose confidence. The past two matches, she recorded 25 kills and seven total blocks. Peterson was the focal point of the offense as the main setter working around her hitters and tallied nearly 80 assists.
However, the Sun Devils still have the lowest hitting percentage, assists, and kills per set in the Pac-12, which is something that will need to be cleaned up by Friday.
The Trojans (15-9) are heading to Tempe in hopes of bouncing back after suffering a five-set loss to the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday.
USC is seeking their 26th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and with freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier on the court – it looks as though that streak will be continuing for a couple more years.
Lanier has recorded 10 double-doubles this season and drilled 23 kills against Oregon and 18 in Tucson. USC’s young leader ranks among the top five in kills per set in the Pac-12.
The Trojans biggest strength is starting each match with energy. ASU experienced that pressure early in their last match against the Trojans earlier this season losing the set 15-25. Starting off well is a key to victory in this matchup.
“We have to come out much better than we did,” ASU head coach Stevie Mussie said “We got in some trouble passing against USC early and that kind of hindered us from having a little bit more success.”
The Sun Devils have fared well against teams with one star hitter like Utah, Oregon State, and Arizona. Lanier is the clear offensive commander. If the Sun Devil defense can slow her down, they give their offense the opportunity to build confidence and gain momentum.
A victory over a ranked conference opponent could be the push ASU needs to finish the season strongly.
Watch the Sun Devils host the Trojans at 6 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The match will be streamed on Pac-12.com
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Delilah Cassidy via Twitter @delilah_cassidy or via email at email@example.com.