After beating No. 23 Oregon less than 24 hours prior, the ASU volleyball team (15-9, 4-8 Pac-12) defeated Oregon State (9-13, 0-11 Pac-12) Saturday night 3-1, earning the team’s second conference road victory and a weekend sweep.
Saturday night also marked the first time ASU has won two straight matches in Pac-12 play.
Coach Jason Watson said he liked how the team has played to start November.
“I don’t know why we’re not so good in October but it’s really important to be good in November and November started out okay for us,” Watson said.
ASU’s backup setter, junior Shannan McCready, again worked well with ASU’s middle blockers, who totaled 24 kills and 12 blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Mercedes Binns set her career-high in kills for the second straight night, this time with nine.
“We thought we could have some success running the middles,” Watson said. “(McCready) found some opportune times to get them the ball.”
Binns said the connection with McCready was due to extensive work in this week’s practices.
“We’ve been working incredibly hard to do what we did this past weekend,” Binns said. “I know during serve/pass, I stayed after (practice) a little bit to work with (McCready).
Having played versus Oregon less than 24 hours prior, the Sun Devils had minimal rest time. Binns said it wasn’t a factor.
“We work really hard every day even though we played a game yesterday,” Binns said. “It didn’t really affect us that much.”
ASU hasn’t played back-to-back games since Sept. 20-21. Yet, Watson said that Oregon State, which hadn’t played since Sunday, was more rested. He said the lack of rest might have been the reason for ASU’s slow start.
“They were ready and prepared and we were not very good to get it going,” Watson said. “But we weathered that storm, I thought we weathered it well.”
After falling behind 2-10 because of a 6-0 OSU run, the Sun Devils fought back to steal the first set 25-21 despite hitting just .047. ASU blocked the Beavers seven times in set one, compared to just three total in the four-set match Friday at Oregon.
“Getting that win gave us a little bit of momentum, gave us a little bit of confidence,” Watson said. “Those are two really important things to have when you go on the road.”
The trend of starting slow continued in set two, but ASU failed to come back, dropping the frame 25-23 despite a late push. At the end of two sets, the Beavers had blocked ASU 13.5 times. Again, Oregon blocked ASU just five times in four sets on Friday night.
ASU won sets three and four by a score of 25-20 to take the match. Junior outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner entered the match for freshman outside hitter Kizzy Willey in the fourth set, adding 2 kills, including the match point.
Freshman outside hitter BreElle Bailey hit on the left side with sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner, leaving Tuioti-Mariner and Willey to split time on the right.
“I think it’s a little by committee,” Watson said. “I think both of them are in a tough spot. We’re asking both of them to go play a position that they haven’t played.”
Bailey, who has played mostly on the right, had 14 kills but also recorded 10 errors for a hitting percentage of .083.
“Clearly there’s a learning curve,” Watson said. “We’re not going to freak out; we’re going to be pretty even-keeled.”
Both ASU and OSU blocked well Saturday night, recording 13 and 16.5 team blocks, respectively. The Sun Devils failed to hit around the block, totaling 28 hitting errors for a team attack percentage of .198.
OSU redshirt junior outside hitter Kelsey Zimmerman led the Beaver offense. She hit .302 and recorded 17 kills Saturday, a career-high.
ASU returns to the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena for a Wednesday match against Washington State at 8:30 p.m.
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