One game at a time, the No. 15 ASU volleyball team (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) is looking ahead to its first full weekend of Pac-12 competition.
The Sun Devils host both Oregon St. (9-4, 0-2 Pac-12) and No. 21 Oregon (8-4, 1-1 Pac-12) in a crucial weekend series before heading off to Washington the following weekend.
Coach Jason Watson said there’s a lot of pressure on the Sun Devils this weekend and that both Oregon schools pose their own challenges.
The weekend begins Friday night with the Oregon St. Beavers, a team Watson described as young and passionate, much like ASU.
“I think there’s some inherent challenges with that,” Watson said. “They’re going to put some pressure on us with their serve. It’s going to be a battle.”
The Sun Devils, who last beat Oregon in 2007 and who are 0-10 in their last 10 matchups against the Ducks, faces off against Oregon two days later in the Sun Devils’ first Sunday afternoon match this season. Watson said the date and time alone could be problematic.
“I don’t know what kind of crowds we’re going to get (on Sunday afternoon),” Watson said. “We’ve got to manufacture some of that intensity ourselves.”
Another peculiar aspect about Sunday’s match is that several Sun Devils have played in the past with Oregon’s libero, freshman Amanda Benson.
Benson attended the Valley’s Xavier College Preparatory, playing a single year with ASU seniors Stephanie Preach and Jenny Teslevich and three years with sophomore setter Bianca Arellano.
Arellano also said she had four years of club volleyball experience with Benson.
“I’m so used to having her on my side of the court, so obviously it’ll be tougher, because she’s just such a great player,” Arellano said. “It’s going to be fun being able to compete with her especially, because she’s gaining her own name at Oregon.”
Watson said to pay attention to Oregon’s setter, senior Lauren Plum, who he described as “one of the best setters in the country.”
“Even if you’re not winning the serve-receive battle, she’s going to go locate some stuff and keep them in tempo,” Watson said. “Even though we want to win the serve-receive battle, I think she negates that a little bit.”
Plum’s style of play forces longer rallies, Watson said.
“The challenge with those guys is we’ve got to be able to be patient because the rallies are going to go long,” Watson said. “They’re going to dig a ton of balls.”
Watson will introduce the Oregon game footage on Saturday as the players want to keep the focus on the Beavers and on their own play.
“We’re more worried about our side of the net,” Arellano said. “We’re good on scouting teams effectively, but right now we just have to focus on our side.”
The Sun Devils match up against Oregon St. Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Oregon Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
- The Friday night match is ASU’s annual Pink Game in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “All of us at some time have been touched by someone we know, someone we love that has been touched with breast cancer,” Watson said. “I think it’s just one way for us to acknowledge them.”
- ASU is first in the Pac-12 with an opposing hitting percentage of .115.
- Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner leads the Pac-12 with 198 total kills, 4.95 per set.
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