(Photo: Zac Pacleb/WCSN)
Inconsistency continued to be a factor as No. 18 Arizona State fell victim to an upset at the hands of the unranked Oregon State Beavers in three sets (20-25, 20-25, 22-25). After completing the upset over No. 11 Oregon the previous night, the Sun Devils looked like a completely different team in Corvallis, struggling to find an offense rhythm in the defeat.
The first set started tight and competitive, as it was a back-and-forth affair for the majority of the early stages of the game. ASU junior outside hitter Macey Gardner paced her team with five kills in the set, finishing with a team-high 13 kills. It was not enough however, as OSU senior middle blocker Arica Nassar put the Beavers up 1-0 in the match with a big kill. Nassar made most of her plays on the defensive side, tallying an impressive six blocks to lead the team.
Coming off a historic 21-block performance against No. 11 Oregon, it was expected that the Sun Devils were going to continue their dominant blocking in a very winnable game, but were held to only seven blocks, compared to 12 on the OSU side. That proved to be the downfall for ASU as they could not slow down any hits that came their way.
The struggles during crunch-time in the sets continued for the Sun Devils in the second set, as they started stride-for-stride with OSU, even tying it at 16 after a kill by junior middle blocker Mercedes Binns. Binns finished the match with eight kills and a team-high .353 hitting percentage. But the Beavers, led by freshman outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall, pulled away to emerge the victor in the set, 25-20.
OSU had a gameplan coming in focusing on the defensive end and taking the Sun Devils out of their offensive rhythm. They accomplished all of that and more in large part to the number of digs the team tallied, a dominating 62. Gardner and the Sun Devils were getting their chances and bent the Beaver defense but it never broke, holding ASU to a .185 hitting percentage.
The third set started and ended the same way as the sets previous, with a Beaver win and a match victory. OSU keyed on Gardner, and after a 24 kill performance against Oregon, she struggled only accounting for only 13 kills and a .143 hitting percentage.
The Sun Devils return to Wells Fargo Arena next week, hosting a rematch Utah on Friday at 7 p.m.