(Photo: Trey Lanthier/WCSN)
The Sun Devils’ perfect start was almost kept alive Friday against the Fighting Illini.
As outside hitter Norah Tuioti-Mariner’s hit struck out of bounds, Illinois celebrated and ASU was left stunned.
The final set was a battle for the ages between No. 14 Illinois (4-2) and Arizona State (7-1), as the teams tussled back and forth between two- and three-point deficits. The Sun Devils were not led by a familiar face, as outside hitter Macey Gardner failed to record a kill in the final set.
Instead it was middle blocker Mercedes Binns and outside hitter BreElle Bailey taking charge, and soon the team had a 15-14 lead for match point. At that point, however Illinois outside hitter Liz McMahon (23 kills*) awoke and notched two consecutive kills to put the tournament’s host team into the driver’s seat, when Tuioti-Mariner committed her missed slam on the final point.
Each of the first two sets was decided by three points or less before the teams traded convincing victories in the third and fourth sets.
Macey Gardner finished with only eight kills* in the match, her lowest total of the season.
Arizona State will next play against defending champion No. 2 Texas at 3 p.m.
*WARNING: CBSSports.com’s stats may be factually incorrect. Check back later for official statistics.