(Photo: Elaine Wilson/WCSN)
No. 10 Arizona State kicks off its own tournament, the Red Lion Invitational, against the UNLV Rebels. The match is in Wells Fargo Arena at 12 p.m Friday.
The Sun Devils are off to their hottest start since 1992. The team is 8-0 and have won its first two matches at home. ASU beat Northern Arizona and beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs in four sets each.
The Rebels come to Tempe looking to build upon a good start to the season. With a record of 6-3, UNLV looks forward to its fourth tournament of preseason play. The team won three games at its own invitational, the UNLV Invitational, and swept all three matches at the Rebel Challenge.
UNLV led by a redshirt junior middle blocker, Bree Hammel. Hammel is leading the Rebels in kills with 97. She also is second on the team in block assists and leads the team with five solo blocks.
ASU comes into the match led by senior outside hitter Macey Gardner and senior setter Bianca Arellano. Both Gardner and Arellano are coming off of double-doubles against Gonzaga on Sunday. Gardner had a season-high 16 kills and paired that with 15 digs, while Arellano had a season high 30 assists and 15 digs as well.
There were also strong performances all around by ASU against Gonzaga. Junior right sides BreElle Bailey and Kizzy Ricedorff posted 13 and 11 kills respectively.
That sets up a great matchup to see if the Rebels can hang with ASU’s high-powered offense. The Rebels are putting up solid defensive numbers on the season averaging 14.3 digs per set. Their passing is led by junior defensive specialist Carly Riehl, who is averaging 4.03 digs per set.
Something else to keep an eye on is if ASU returns to being the dominant blocking team that it was at the before the Gonzaga match. The ASU blockers seemed baffled in the first two sets against Gonzaga’s offense. The Sun Devils only posted two blocks through the first two sets and finished with a season-low of six. They will look to get back on track this weekend.
This match will be the first of the Red Lion invitational for the Sun Devils when they square off against UNLV, but they will play two more on Saturday. If you want to check out this game it will be at 12 p.m .on Friday in Wells Fargo Arena or streamed on pac-12.com.
If you will be attending the match, please visit thesundevils.com for parking information.