(Photo: Courtney Pedroza/WCSN)
The No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils swept the Utah Utes in what was ASU’s first home match in over two weeks.
The match was the fourth for the Macey Gardner-less Sun Devils and saw some significant strides in the cohesion of the team as a whole as they’ve started to gel with a new lineup.
Arizona State head coach Jason Watson felt comfortable switching Follette to right side during the team’s recent road trip to the Los Angeles schools. During those matches, Follette recorded 23 kills and 12 blocks.
In the first set, Follette shined defensively for the Sun Devils, recording two solo blocks from the right side. In the set, she also had one kill and one error to go along with one ace in the set.
Despite what appeared to be subpar numbers, Follette definitely appeared more comfortable. She had some good swings that were dug by the Utes and forced some errors defensively.
In the second set, Follette recorded three kills including two huge kills towards the end of the set.
The third set, Follette tallied her first four kills off the hands of the Utah blockers. She got good power on all of her swings whether she was hitting from the right or left side. She went on to finish the set with six kills to once again reach double-digits.
Watson applauded his senior for her performances over the last three matches.
“She’s making us look silly in that we probably should’ve done it sooner.” Watson said. “Here is this really good middle, and for her to do what she’s doing and do it at the level she’s doing it speaks unbelievably of her character. It’s phenomenal.”
Follette played another incredibly efficient game. Her 10 kills came on 19 attempts, and she only had two errors in the match, good for a .421 hitting percentage. She also had two solo blocks putting her just four away from 400 total blocks for her career.
This match was the third start of MacLean’s freshman campaign. Initially expected to redshirt this year, Maclean was thrown into the fire after Gardner went down. Her first two starts were against the No. 1 and then No. 12 teams in USC and UCLA.
While MacLean’s offensive numbers still aren’t stellar – she finished with two kills and five errors – she absolutely made her presence felt elsewhere. MacLean had four assists from the outside to go along with nine digs and two blocks.
It’s evident that Maclean still feels uncomfortable on the outside. Often times throughout the game she would get too far underneath the set, which in turn would not allow her to see her block.
Watson reiterated that Maclean is better than the numbers would indicate as he pointed out the difficulties that she’s faced as a freshman.
“Steep learning curve for her,” Watson said. “Not only are you not redshirting, you have to pass and she’s never done that before. I gotta think this is the start. She’ll get better.”
Jasmine Koonts had her best overall game in her young Sun Devil career. In her last game against Washington State, she didn’t have a kill and recorded two errors.
The last time Koonts recorded a kill was September 18th against UNLV. In that match, she recorded two kills which set her career high.
Coming off a concussion suffered in practice, she showed a newfound confidence in the match against the Utes. She had five kills on nine attempts only recording one error.
“It was a slow start in practice,” Koonts said in regards to her first action after the injury. “It got better and better, and today felt good. It’s really fas,t but in your mind you’ve got to make it slow.”
The Utes only had one block in the match. That made it exponentially easier for Koonts to find holes in Utah’s defense. It was clear she had more confidence throughout the match as she hit over .400 for the first time in her career and tied her career high in kills.
She also added two total blocks and contributed to an ASU defensive attack that forced 24 errors in the match and had 11 total blocks.
The Sun Devils will take on a tougher Pac-12 opponent tomorrow in Colorado. The Buffaloes have already beaten then No. 6 Stanford this season. Look for how these three players perform to impact how the Sun Devils perform. The game is 7 p.m. tomorrow and can be seen on the Pac-12 digital stream.