The No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils (12-1) will face their biggest test since defeating then-No. 2 Texas when they face off against No. 7 Stanford (8-2) in Palo Alto, CA on Friday night.
Stanford is the defending Pac-12 champion (their sixth conference title in seven years) and they return their entire starting lineup that played their way to the NCAA regional final last season before falling to the Michigan Wolverines.
The Cardinal features a balanced offense, with three Stanford attackers averaging at least three kills per set led by senior middle blocker Carly Wopat. Wopat has the third highest hitting percentage in the nation at .513, a category which she led the Pac-12 in last season.
Wopat was recognized by the AVCA as a first-team All-American selection last season, her second time achieving that honor. During Stanford’s four set victory over California on September 25, she passed former All-American and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh for fifth all-time in career blocks at Stanford.
Arizona State’s victory over Texas two weeks ago is sure to give the Sun Devils confidence, as the Longhorns defeated Stanford in Austin on September 8th in four sets.
“Nobody on our team has ever beaten Stanford,” ASU head coach Jason Watson said. “We get one shot at them, and I know that’s a big deal.”
The Sun Devils are coming off of a rallying sweep of the Arizona Wildcats, their in-state rival. The third set included coming back from a 22-24 deficit late, completing their 12th sweep of the season. Middle blocker Whitney Follette had her best game of the season, putting down seven kills and the game-ending block on Arizona hitter Madi Kingdon.
She will have to step up again, along with the rest of ASU’s attackers, to take the load off of outside hitter Macey Gardner, who is sixtth in the nation in kills per set with 4.94.
Stanford leads the all-time series over the Sun Devils, winning 62 of the 66 matches played. The last time ASU defeated Stanford was in 2000, in four sets.
The match will be played in Palo Alto on Friday at 6 p.m. Check back here at CronkiteSports.com for post-game coverage.
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