(Photo: James Powell/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils were swept by the No. 12 Stanford Cardinal on Friday evening at Wells Fargo Arena 21-25, 15-25, 18-25.
The Sun Devils started hot but ran out of gas as the match progrssed. Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell attributed this to their inability to slow down the game.
“When we get into tough situations like that we start to scramble,” K. Pickrell said. “When we scramble is when we stop reading the adjustments they make on their side.”
The Cardinal started off the first set rocky and had trouble staying in system. ASU capitalized and jumped out to an 8-3 lead before Stanford took a timeout.
Stanford’s strong block allowed them to come back and eventually take the lead at 17-16. ASU managed to hang in the game from Stanford errors. Despite its increase of accuracy, the smart blocking was too tough for ASU overcome.
“You look at them like ‘Oh you’re massive. You’re just going to go over the top of us and bounce it.’ But, they understand that that’s not always going to get them the kill,” head coach Stevie Mussie said.
Senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku pushed her team through the end of the set, drilling three of the Cardinal’s final five points. They eventually won the set 25-21 on a block by freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris who recorded five in the set.
Despite the significant increase in attack percentage for ASU from .088 to .216, the second set was less competitive. Stanford went on a short four-point run to go up 8-4 forcing an ASU timeout. Out of the break, a few tough calls on the line did not go their way as Stanford took a 15-11 lead.
The Cardinal took over the game with their quick pace of play and strong kills to win the set 25-15. Freshman opposite hitter Kathryn Plummer’s bounce back was a big part of the second set dominance. She was perfect in the set with seven kills on as many attempts.
In the third set the Sun Devils kept pace with the best blocking team in the country, but they ran out of steam late. Stanford went on a six-point run to go up 23-15. The Cardinal won the set on the Sun Devils seventh service error of the match 25-18.
Plummer finished the match with 13 kills, .360 hit percentage, and three total blocks. Freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic received the most attack attempts for ASU with 24 and fell one kill shy of a double double with kills and digs. She recognizes she has room to grow these last three games.
“I need to start being more confident. After two or three first kills then I believe in myself,” Jeremic said. “ I’m still trying to stay in the same rhythm the whole game. That’s a goal for me.”
The Sun Devils quickly move past the loss as they host the California Golden Bears Saturday at 7 p.m.
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