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ASU Volleyball: Why the No. 10 Sun Devils beat Gonzaga

(Photo: Elaine Wilson/WCSN)

For the No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils, Sunday’s match against the Gonzaga Bulldogs was full of strong performances. Whether it be hitting, setting or digging, the Sun Devils shined in all facets.

On offense, senior outside hitter Macey Gardner led the way with an impressive 16 kills. This was Gardner’s season-high, passing her previous high of 13 which came against Western Michigan. There were also three other ASU hitters who tallied double-digit kills: junior right side BreElle Bailey who had 13, junior right side Kizzy Ricedorff who had 11, and senior middle blocker Whitney Follette who had 10. Both Ricedorff’s and Bailey’s numbers were season-highs.

The offense however, couldn’t have run this smoothly without the aid of a setter. Senior setter Bianca Arellano looked flawless on the court. She tallied a season high of 30 assists, besting her old high of 24 which came in a five set match against New Mexico State. Although it wasn’t just Arellano who helped the Sun Devil offense, she had backup with ASU’s other setter, freshman Kylie Pickrell.

Pickrell would finish the day with 23 assists, just one short of her season high.

The reason that ASU’s setters were able to operate so smoothly was because they didn’t have to track down balls all over the court. The Sun Devil digging was phenomenal against the Bulldogs. Not only were they getting a lot of what the Bulldogs sent at them, the passing was accurate. Like hitting, there were four Sun Devil players with double digit digs. The four players were Gardner, Arellano, sophomore libero Halle Harker, and junior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell.

Gardner and Arellano seemed to be the focal part of both the offense and defense notching double-doubles. Arellano her fifth straight of the season and Gardner her fourth.

Although it wasn’t as many as people normally see from Follette, but she had three blocking assists, putting her three blocks closer to fifth all-time on the ASU blocks list.

ASU’s blocking wasn’t as prevalent as normal in the match. The nation’s leading blocking team seemed to have trouble with the Bulldogs setting. It could be due to the fact that the Sun Devils hadn’t seen a team running a 6-2 offense all season. ASU only came out with two blocks in the first two sets and finished with six on the day. Gonzaga opposite Savannah Blinn seemed to be unstoppable in sets one and two as she had a hitting percentage of .426 at one point. The Sun Devils eventually locked in on Blinn, bring her percentage within .200 in the last two sets and taking the match. 

In order for an offense to be firing on all cylinders everything has to come together. The Sun Devils seemed to click, bringing all facets of the game. Which should come in handy against No. 7 Illinois on Saturday. Catch the Sun Devils in action on September 18 and 19 during the Red Lion Invitational at Wells Fargo Arena or on the Pac-12 Digital Network.

You can reach Jacob Franklin on Twitter @Jacob_Franklin4

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