(Photo by: Troy Lynch/WCSN)
The No. 21 Arizona State Sun Devils got their first conference road victory of the season defeating Utah in three sets 25-23, 26-24, 25-23 giving ASU head coach Jason Watson his 200th career win.
Contrary to their last match against the Buffaloes, the Sun devils got off to a blistering start jumping out to a 6-1 lead hitting 1.000 and registering an early block.
Offensively both teams played well in the first set, while ASU maintained a slim lead, Utah hung tough by playing clean offensively as they only had three errors through its first 30 swings.
Towards the latter half of the first set, ASU’s defense stepped up. Senior opposite Whitney Follette moved into sole possession of third all time in total blocks with her first one and finished with three total in the set.
The defense stepping up propelled the Sun Devil to a first set victory by a score of 25-23.
The second set was much more even with neither team leading by more than two for the entire set. The Sun Devils saw their early offensive efficiency fall by the wayside as their hitting percentage drop down to .200.
Credit Utah for stepping up defensively. A team not usually known for blocking had 4 through two sets and were visibly disrupting the rhythm of ASU’s hitters.
Ultimately, the Sun Devils were able to scrape together enough offense to win the set with the final score being 26-24.
In the third and final set, Utah held the lead for a considerable amount of time. It felt as though the Sun Devils were not going to be able to close the gap as the Utes seemed to have an answer for every potential run the Sun Devil would make.
The Sun Devils pulled away from the Utes in the end winning on Follette’s ninth kill of the match, winning the third set 25-23.
It was clear that the Utes were definitely more comfortable in the 6-2 system as this match was much more competitive than the first match between these teams in Tempe. The Utes hit at a higher percentage at .213 than ASU’s .207, and for a while were actually out-blocking the Sun Devils as well.
Statistically this match was iffy for the Sun Devils. Once again they blocked very well, tallying 11.5 total blocks in the three sets, but once again a fast start was ultimately riddled with errors resulting in a hitting percentage of just over .200.
Senior setter Bianca Arellano had another double-double for the Sun Devils. She finished the match with 18 assists and 14 digs. Junior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell finished with a double-double of her own tallying 14 kills and 11 digs.
The win moves the Sun Devils record to 19-8 on the year and 8-8 in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils return home next weekend in what is undoubtedly the most important weekend of the season as they take on the Southern California schools and have Senior Day Friday against UCLA.