(Photo: Trey Lanthier/WCSN)
The No. 1 USC Trojans came into Wells Fargo Arena and swept the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils 25-17, 25-20, 25-15 on Friday night. The Trojans have yet to drop a match in Pac-12 play.
“That’s the best team that we’ve seen,” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “We’ve seen Washington, we’ve seen Stanford, we’ve seen Texas, and in terms of creating and converting and putting pressure on you, that’s an impressive team to play against.”
The Sun Devils came out strong early, leading 11-9 early in the first set. However, a 10-3 USC run propelled the Trojans to win the set. USC held ASU to a side-out percentage of 37 percent.
“We just weren’t patient,” freshman opposite hitter BreElle Bailey said. “When things aren’t going our way, we start to speed the game up a little more and that doesn’t work for us.”
The second set started out similarly, as the Sun Devils came out strong again, staying even at 17-17. McKenzie Willey led ASU with three of her five kills in the second set. However, USC went on a late 5-1 run to distance themselves in the end.
USC was led by sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio and junior middle blocker Hannah Schraer. Both put down ten kills and combined for a hitting percentage of .575.
Bricio constantly pressured Arizona State’s serve receive and recorded five aces.
“That’s one of the toughest serves I’ve ever received,” senior libero Stephanie Preach said of Bricio’s serve.
In the third set, USC imposed their will on the Sun Devils. They never trailed in the set, and led by as many as 11 points.
“We’re just struggling to stay on task long enough in matches like this,” Watson said. “It’s hard for them. It’s really hard for them because they want to play great.”
Bailey led the Sun Devils with ten kills as she was the only ASU attacker with double digits in that category. The second-most came from Macey Gardner, with seven kills on 29 attempts.
“[Bailey] is kind of carrying us, she’s trying to carry us offensively right now. We just can’t get her the ball enough,” Watson said.
“As a hitter, you want as many swings as you can,” Bailey said. “I would like more swings, I would, but the rest of the game comes first.”
After starting the season 13-1, ASU has lost five of their last six matches, and they are now 2-5 in conference play. The Sun Devils are starting to feel some of the pressure of playing in the Pac-12.
“It makes me laugh that everybody thinks the [Pac-12] is so deep, it’s so wonderful, isn’t that fun? I’m trying to figure out where the fun is,” Watson said. “I don’t know where the fun is right now.”
The Sun Devils will look to right the ship on Sunday against the UCLA Bruins in Wells Fargo Arena.
“We need to win. Nothing to it, we gotta win,” Preach said. “That’s it, and we’re going to.”
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org