It took all five sets to determine a winner.
With the score even after four sets, No. 16 ASU and Washington State had traded points seemingly through the entire contest. They alternated sets, each winning then losing a set.
WSU (15-3, 2-3 Pac-12) scored first and ultimately, scored last.
The game was about as even as possible. Hit percentage, blocks, kills and even serve errors were within a few numbers each of one other. The final score was as close as it could possibly get: 105-104 in WSU’s favor.
Coach Jason Watson said close games are what he expects from Pac-12 play.
“I thought we did some nice things but we just didn’t do them long enough,” he said. “And if you don’t, you lose in five.”
The first set was a back-and-forth affair. ASU (13-4, 2-3 Pac-12) jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, only to see the Cougars go on an 8-1 run and claimed the lead. ASU took another lead, only to see it evaporate after another WSU run. The Cougars took five straight points and led 17-15.
After trading points, a kill by Cougars’ junior outside hitter Jaicee Harris broke the tie. WSU didn’t look back and took the first set 25-23.
The second set was even closer. The largest lead that either team had in the set was ASU’s 6-3 advantage. WSU came back to tie the game, and the teams alternated points all the way up to 14-14. The Cougars then scored twice to break the pattern.
WSU would let ASU hang around just long enough. Down 22-20, the Sun Devils went on a 4-0 run, and won the set 25-23 on a kill by sophomore middle blocker Whitney Follette, her ninth of the night. She finished with a team-high 19. That evened up the set score at 1-1.
“Lost in the performance was just how wonderful Whitney Follette was,” Watson said. “We wish they had rallied around her a little better and found a ‘W.’ … She was so good.”
The third set was more of the same for the Sun Devils and Cougars. The largest lead by either team was a three-point edge, and a vicious kill by WSU junior outside hitter Chelsey Bettinson gave the Cougars a 25-22 set victory, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
ASU decided it wasn’t ready to head back to the hotel and came out firing in the fourth set. The set seemed poised to follow the previous three in back and forth scoring, but ASU was able to pull away. A 5-0 run midway through the set gave the Sun Devils an 18-11 lead, and that would prove to be enough.
ASU won the fourth set 25-17, which set up a decisive fifth set.
The fifth set was all Cougars as they cruised to a 15-9 victory and their second Pac-12 win of the season.
ASU continues its Washington road trip with a clash with No. 6 Washington on Sunday.
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