(Photo: Marie Obsuna/WCSN)
Arizona State’s final road match of the season may be the toughest of all. The hunt for its 10th win on the season continues this afternoon against the No. 11 Washington Huskies.
ASU’s hard fought loss to the Washington State Cougars illustrated flashes of hope despite only coming away with one set.
Senior outside hitter Maya McClendon put on a show, drilling a career high 24 kills. She also posted a .477 hitting percentage on the night.
Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell who took a backseat in the last four matches returned to the court in dazzling fashion. She recorded 35 assists and two aces against the Cougars.
However, the performances are overshadowed by another loss on their record. The Sun Devils are now 9-18 on the season and 2-13 in the Pac-12.
Arizona State now must quickly move on from the loss and prepare to face the best team in the conference.
The Huskies own a 21-4 record and are 11-4 in the Pac-12 after sweeping Arizona earlier this weekend. Arizona State head coach Stevie Mussie acknowledges the talent of the Huskies but is focused on her team.
“You can only worry about them so much,” she said. “They are good. They have some pretty young kids but they are mature.”
The Huskies are an evenly spread team. They do not have one dominant player in any capacity other than their setter. Junior setter Bailey Tanner is the core of the team. She currently averages a conference best 10.73 assists per set – good for 38th in the country.
Junior outside hitters Tia Scambray and Courtney Schwan are players for the Sun Devils to watch. Scambray has been delving into a bit of everything for the Huskies, but when things slip it’s Schwan the team depends on to start a rally.
One player the Sun Devils may be able to attack is junior outside hitter Crissy Jones whose dominance has been slowly slipping. She hasn’t posted double-digit kills in four of her last five matches after having only seven such performances the entire season.
The Sun Devils will need to come out strong from the first serve. The Huskies have lost the first set only twice this season. This speaks to the discipline of the team and their ability to come out aggressive.
ASU needs to come out swinging accurately and Mussie knows it is possible.
“In system we are really good,” she said. “If we can upgrade our transition a little bit that would be prefect. We are right where we want to be.”
Another area the Sun Devils will need to improve immediately is at the service line. The reoccurring theme could come to haunt them against the conferences best serving team.
Watch the Sun Devils and Huskies square off at 12 p.m. PT in Seattle on Washington’s live stream.