(Photo: Marie Obsuna/WCSN)
Amidst their recent struggles at home, the Arizona State Sun Devils go on the road to face a reeling Washington State Cougars team on Friday night.
The Sun Devils come into the game with a 9-17 (2-12) record on the season. They have lost their last three games, including being swept at home by USC and No. 13 UCLA next week. The Cougars are 17-9 (7-7) this year, but have lost their last four games.
Less than a month ago, at the time these two teams first met, the Cougars were ranked 18th in the country. Since then, Washington State is 1-4, including a straight set loss to California, whom the Sun Devils beat earlier this season.
In the first matchup between these two teams, the Cougars dominated. They out-blocked the Sun Devils 13 to 7 in that game, and their hitting percentage was .253, compared to ASU’s .040.
Ball control is something the coaches and players for the Sun Devils attributed to their low hitting percentage the first time around.
“The biggest thing is our ball control,” ASU head coach Stevie Mussie said. “If we pass well we can hit well.”
Limiting opponents to low hitting percentages is something the Cougars have done all season long, as they rank first in the Pac-12 in opponent hitting percentage, allowing teams to hit just .158 against them.
The biggest player to watch for Washington State is its senior outside hitter Kyra Holt. She leads the Cougars with 362 kills this season, which is 136 more than second place on the team. She has also tacked on 228 digs, good for second on the team.
The last time these teams met, Holt posted 13 kills with a hitting percentage of .393.
The Sun Devils have a more balanced offense, and will need to use that to take an advantage over the Cougars. Junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro leads the team with 263 kills, but senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell is not far behind with 232.
Blocking is another area of the game the Sun Devils need to be sharp in in order to gain an advantage over a bigger Washington State team.
“The biggest thing is our eye work,” Mussie said. “Serving tough and getting them out of system, then we know where the ball’s going. Then doing a good job of setting up the block so that it’s solid.”
Both teams enter tonight’s game looking to get off their respective losing streaks. The second matchup of the season between Arizona State and Washington State is set to start at 8 P.M. MT.
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