The Trojans can’t be stopped.
In front of a raucous Tempe crowd, No. 1 USC won its 11th straight match Friday night, defeating the No. 22 ASU volleyball team 17-25, 20-25, 15-25.
The Sun Devils (13-6, 2-5 Pac-12) have now lost four straight games in conference play.
Coach Jason Watson said USC played just as expected.
“That’s the best team that we’ve seen,” Watson said. “We knew that coming in.”
With senior libero Stephanie Preach at the service line, the Sun Devils went on a four-point rally to start the first set. But USC started to display its dominance shortly thereafter and went on an 8-1 run. The Trojans won the set 25-17.
USC sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio dominated the Sun Devils with a unique serve that ASU’s Preach described as a hybrid float-spin.
“That’s one of the toughest serves I’ve ever received I think,” Preach said. “Our plan after that first game, was we went in just to be one and done. So literally one receive and done.”
The Sun Devils fought point-by-point with the Trojans until late in the second set. USC continued to look to Bricio for much of its offense in the second set. She ended up with 10 kills and five service aces. Junior middle blocker Hannah Schraer provided the rest of the offense, totaling 10 kills while hitting .769.
USC closed out the match by taking the third set 25-15, a set that saw Bricio’s best serves of the night.
Freshman outside hitter BreElle Bailey, who led all Sun Devils with 10 kills, said ASU was impatient Friday.
“Our team is based upon being patient and when things don’t go our way we start to speed the game up a little bit more and that doesn’t work for us,” Bailey said. “Emotionally it just got away from us.”
ASU hit just .103 against USC, its lowest number since the Oregon match on Oct. 6. But hitting was just one of the issues for the Sun Devils.
“It’s a pretty simple equation, if we’re not going to serve very well, which we didn’t, and they’re going to serve great, and we’re not going to pass and they’re going to pass great, you’re going to lose in three,” Watson said.
Both Bailey and Watson said the team needs to find its identity again.
“I think we kind of play as individual players instead of as a team when we’re not emotionally invested,” Bailey said.
Bailey, who has played on the right side, had 24 attempts Friday night. But as a right-handed hitter, Bailey would likely get more swings on the left.
“As a hitter, you want as many swings as you can,” Bailey said. “The rest of the game has to come first.”
Watson said he thinks about making the change “every day.” Bailey on the left would likely mean junior outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner would see increased time on the right.
Preach, Bailey and Watson all stressed the importance of taking Sunday’s match against UCLA before departing on the program’s longest conference road stretch of the season.
“We need a win and we need a win now and we need a win at home,” Bailey said.
ASU will get that chance on Sunday against UCLA. The match begins at 11:00 a.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
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