If you told the Sun Devil volleyball team (13-3, 2-2 Pac-12) at the beginning of the season it would split its home series against Oregon State and last year’s NCAA tournament runner-up Oregon, it might have been pleased. But times have changed.
Given ASU’s recent success, Oregon’s recent losses and the manner in which the Sun Devils lost Sunday’s game to Oregon, it was far from pleased.
Coach Jason Watson put the loss in perspective Sunday afternoon.
“We’re two and two now in conference, and we’re back in the thick with everybody else, so this is a disappointing night for us,” Watson said.
The Sun Devils are now tied with Utah, Arizona, California and Oregon with 2-2 conference records.
The weekend was a tale of two vastly different matches. Friday saw the typical ASU volleyball, the team that hits .307 and sweeps opponents in front of a big home crowd. Sunday was an entirely different story.
ASU hit just .066 because of 34 hitting errors, both season-worsts for the Sun Devils.
“It’s been a trait of us to be pretty clean,” Watson said. “We were not clean at all tonight.”
The Sun Devils were unable to slow the Oregon hitters and constantly playing out of system and making poor passes. They recorded just six team blocks, despite blocking the Beavers on Friday 11 times in just three sets.
Watson messed around with the lineup, even throwing in junior outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner in hopes she would provide a spark. The Corona, Calif. native recorded zero kills and three errors in her five attempts Sunday, good for a -.600 hitting percentage.
ASU outside hitters persistently tried powering through the Oregon blockers, who roofed the Sun Devils 14 times, the most by a Duck team since 2010.
For perhaps the first time this season, the Sun Devils seemed simply unprepared for the competition, something Watson said was a factor.
“We absolutely failed in our preparation and being ready to play,” Watson said.
Perhaps more concerning was the fact that Oregon’s All-American setter Lauren Plum did not play because of an injury. Junior Shellsy Ashen took over the setting responsibilities and meshed perfectly with the hitters.
The Sun Devils not only lost their home set streak, which was up to 19, but also snapped their seven-game home winning streak, which started with last year’s Territorial Cup Series victory over the Wildcats.
Watson said that home victories separate the leaders from the pack in the Pac-12.
“I think every match we play at home is a match we should win,” Watson said. “If you want to get some separation between us and everybody else, you’ve got to do that.”
The road gets no easier this weekend, as the Sun Devils travel north for Washington State on Friday at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday, ASU takes on former-No. 1 Washington, who is no longer undefeated after falling to Colorado last Friday.
Freshman outside hitter Kizzy Willey, who had 17 kills between the two matches, summed it up perfectly after Friday’s victory.
“The Pac-12 is a bloodbath,” Willey said.
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