(Photo: Zac Pacleb/WCSN)
Fresh off a taxing five set loss to the No. 11 UCLA Bruins, the No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils gear up to take on the No. 1 team in the country, the USC Women of Troy in their final home of the season.
USC comes in with only one loss on the year (to the No. 2 Washington Huskies) and has talent up and down the lineup.
Senior Samantha Bricio is one of the best players in the country, which is evident by her being in the top top five nationally in three offensive categories. On the year, she is third in the nation in kills per set averaging 5.07 per set. She also leads the nation in aces and aces per set tallying 72 on the year, good for .74 per set.
Serve receive will be critical for the Sun Devils in this match. Given the amount of movement on Bricio’s serve, the Sun Devils will need to pass effectively and convert possessions into points to avoid USC going on long runs.
In addition to Bricio, USC also gets great production from freshman Alyse Ford. Ford has come in and become a dominant force for the Women of Troy. The freshman is averaging 2.8 kills on the year and has provided the Women of Troy with some balance offensively.
ASU has gotten back to its identity as a solid defensive team and will need to stay at that level to succeed against USC. In its last three matches, ASU has recorded over 15 total blocks as a team, including 21 in its last match against UCLA. USC is an elite offensive team leading the Pac-12 in kills per set and second in hitting percentage. Defensive play will be huge in order to succeed.
Offensively, getting off to a hot start and balance will be key for the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils didn’t record a kill until their 11th point in the first set against UCLA. They can’t afford to have that slow of a start against a team like USC. Balance is key because USC is too good defensively for ASU’s offensive to become one dimensional.
The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena and can be seen on the Pac-12 digital stream.