The No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils’ volleyball team (13-2) is on the verge of a historic season, and they’ll look to continue their success as they take on the No. 21 Oregon Ducks (8-5) Sunday afternoon.
It will be ASU’s fifth game against a ranked opponent (the team is currently 2-2 in such games), but the first at home. The Sun Devils will look to keep their perfect home record alive as well.
For Oregon, it will be an opportunity to turn around the month of October, in which the Ducks have lost both games they’ve played, against now No. 1 Washington and Arizona.
Oregon started the year ranked No. 8 in the country and have since seen the rankings drop the Ducks 13 spots after five losses, two of which have come against unranked opponents.
The Ducks have struggled to find the same rhythm in 2013 that they did at the end of the 2012 season, when they made a run to the National Championship game. A big reason for their struggles this season is the loss of senior leadership, such as Pac-12 Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma and Pac-12 All-Team Honorable Mention Hailey Jacob.
This year, setter Lauren Plum has retained her championship-level setting with an average of 12.13 assists per set. Liz Brenner is leading the attack with 4.18 kills per set, but Ariana Williams has paved the way with efficiency, and a .409 hitting percentage.
The matchup to watch is going to be how well the Oregon middle blockers can contain the ferocious front line for ASU. So far on the year, the Sun Devils have gotten help behind star outside hitter Macey Gardner (.295 hit percentage, 4.88 kills per set), in the form of immense depth at the attacking positions.
It’s defense that has really gotten Arizona State rolling though, as both middle blockers, Whitney Follette and Mercedes Binns, are averaging over a block per set, and starting setter Bianca Arellano has produced an incredible 0.89 blocks per set despite her small size.
This clash of two ranked teams striving for national significance can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks. Check back here at CronkiteSports.com for all post-game coverage.
You can reach Trey Lanthier on Twitter @TreyLanthier or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.