The ASU volleyball team (7-0) rolled through another nonconference opponent Thursday evening, sweeping sets against Youngstown State 25-21, 25-11, 25-21, in the opening match of the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill.
The Sun Devils now boast the longest undefeated set streak (21-0) to start a season at ASU since the program’s inaugural year in 1973.
The Sun Devils joined elite company with the sweep: ASU and No. 7 Michigan are the only NCAA teams to have won their first 21 sets of the season.
Youngstown State’s largest lead of the match was just four points, as sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner and company cruised to the sweep.
Senior libero Stephanie Preach said playing a quick match was crucial given the caliber of No.2 Texas and No.14 Illinois, the two teams the Sun Devils face Friday.
“We were trying to save our legs a little bit with a three-game match tonight,” Preach said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us not only in the morning but also in the night.”
Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner and freshman outside hitter BreElle Bailey took charge offensively, both totaling 10 kills. Meanwhile, Bailey led all hitters with a .389 hitting percentage.
Freshman outside hitter Kizzy Willey, who has seen consistent playing time, did not play Thursday night. Junior outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner, who has seen time in just two matches this season, played in her place and racked up four kills with just one error in nine total attempts.
Sophomore setter Bianca Arellano notched 29 assists and converted on three of three kill attempts in the victory.
The Sun Devils continued the defensive trend Thursday night, holding their opponents to just a .124 hitting percentage and forcing 20 errors along the way. It was just the second time this season that an opponent has hit over the .100 mark.
Despite not facing much adversity Thursday, Preach, who led the team with 18 digs, has been amazed by the resolve of such a young volleyball team.
“We can be down 10 points and it’s not over,” Preach said. “We’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep working until we get 25.”
The Illini Classic continues tomorrow when the Sun Devils face No. 14 Illinois at 10:00 a.m. and No. 2 Texas at 5:00 p.m.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott.
Correction: Because of a source error, a previous version of this article contained several incorrect statistics, including the combined number of kills from Macey Gardner and BreElle Bailey, Bailey’s hitting percentage and the number of Bianca Arellano’s assists and Stephanie Preach’s digs. The story has been updated with the correct statistics.