The ASU volleyball team (13-2, 2-1 Pac-12) once again cruised to a straight-sets victory at home, this time defeating the Oregon State Beavers (9-5, 0-3 Pac-12) 25-19, 25-8, 25-14 Friday in the opening match of its weekend against the Oregon schools.
The Sun Devils rebounded well after being swept by No. 7 Stanford a week ago Friday, something senior libero Stephanie Preach said was crucial.
“Coming back after Friday night was important for us so we kind of took that, all the loss on last Friday and channeled it all into positive energy tonight,” Preach said. “It was huge.”
The Sun Devils and Beavers traded points early in the first set until ASU went on a 6-0 run, never slowing down thereafter and winning the set 25-19.
Coach Jason Watson said the slow start was because of some early hesitancy.
“I don’t think we were very mindful in game one and I thought we were a little tentative in some things and as a result we kind of gave them some points,” Watson said. “I thought we were pretty clean from then on out.”
ASU cruised through the second set, riding a 10-0 run with freshman outside hitter Kizzy Willey serving to open up the lead. The Sun Devils allowed the Beavers to score just 8 points in the set, the lowest ASU has allowed in a set all season. OSU was hitting -0.16 after the first two frames.
Willey finished with one of her best matches as a Sun Devil, recording 11 kills, which tied her season-high, and hitting .346. She attributed it to hard work in practice that has finally paid off on the court.
“Everybody digresses before they progress and so these last couple weeks I have been working on a lot of stuff,” Willey said. “I’ve been really focusing on passing and hitting high on my swing and approaches and driving my serves.”
Willey continued the trend in the third set. She served in the midst of a 8-2 run and recorded four kills in that stretch. ASU never trailed in the final set and coasted to a victory, winning the third set 25-14.
The Sun Devil middle blockers were a force at the net Friday night, totaling 11 team blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Mercedes Binns and sophomore Bianca Arellano added five solo blocks each.
“We had two really good film sessions earlier and our blockers took that, studied their film and did a really great job on their hitters,” Preach said.
ASU also passed well, something that the Sun Devils focused on during this week’s practices. Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner, known for her powerful kills, recorded nine digs and kept the ball in system.
“She made a couple of really nice digs,” Watson said. “She has this identity to be able to hit but you got to play the game.”
Preach recorded seven digs but also contributed something much more intangible: Energetic leadership. The Phoenix, Ariz. native has made that an element of her game as a senior.
“That’s just something I can contribute, something that’s easy for me to contribute,” Preach said. “It’s part of my game so I try and give that as much as I can.”
The Sun Devils get one day’s rest before hosting No. 21 Oregon Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.
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Correction: The caption accompanying an earlier version of this story misspelled BreElle Bailey’s name. It has since been corrected.