Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time, the No. 18 ASU volleyball team (9-1) cruised to a straight sets victory over Cal Poly Friday night 25-19, 25-14, 25-19.
The Sun Devils have now won 29 of 32 sets in 2013.
Head coach Jason Watson said he thought the home environment was just as challenging as playing on the road.
“We talk about going on the road being tough, I think it’s tough coming home,” Watson said. “I was particularly concerned actually.”
Freshman outside hitter BreElle Bailey dominated the first set, racking up three kills and two solo blocks, helping to give her squad the early lead.
ASU traded points with Cal Poly early in the second set, but the Sun Devils went on a 10-1 run to take the 2-0 set lead.
In the final set, the Mustangs went on a few runs to give the illusion of a much closer game, but the Sun Devils prevailed.
“I thought in game three we stopped working really hard,” Watson said. “We weren’t scoring points like we were in game two.”
The Sun Devils dominated the battle at the net, totaling 13 blocks and limiting the Mustangs to just a .073 hitting percentage.
“That’s not a skill we’ve been known for,” Watson said. “It was nice to score some points with our block for sure.”
Bailey recorded six total blocks and sophomore middle blocker Mercedes Binns added five more to stifle the Mustangs’ hitters.
Sophomore setter Bianca Arellano confused the Mustang defense with an incredibly powerful serve Watson hadn’t seen until Friday night.
“That’s the first time it’s kind of happened like that, to be quite honest,” Watson said. “It’s high-risk, high-reward. Tonight we got a reward on it.”
Arellano spread the offense to not only the outside hitters but also the middle blockers. Binns and sophomore middle blocker Whitney Follette combined for 11 kills.
“I was (distributing to the middle blockers) because our outsides are taking a lot of swings,” Arellano said. “It’s good to get some confidence and some connection going with our middles.”
Watson also noticed Arellano’s increased sets to middle blockers.
“That’s a Bianca thing,” Watson said. “In order for us to do what it is we want to do, we’ve got to be a little more balanced.”
Despite leading her team with 10 kills, sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner was less effective than she was in the Illini Invitational.
“I don’t think we were leading Macey into her side as much,” Watson said. “She had to manage it a little bit differently.”
Arellano said Cal Poly’s speed was something the Sun Devils hadn’t seen yet.
“This is probably the fastest offense we have seen in the past three weeks in every game we have played so far,” Arellano said.
Binns gave a warning to upcoming opponents after the game.
“I think every team should be scared of us this year,” she said.
The Marriott Invitational continues tomorrow when the Sun Devils face Alabama St. at 12:00 p.m. and Louisiana-Monroe at 7:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Additional Game Notes
-Attendance was 1,369 for tonight’s home opener.
-Two of Gardner’s fingers were wrapped up but Watson said he didn’t think it affected her performance.
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