Final ASU volleyball preseason scrimmage reveals room to improve

Junior setter Bianca Arellano sets the ball for her teammates during the ASU Women's Volleyball Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena. (Photo by Becca Smouse)

Junior setter Bianca Arellano sets the ball for her teammates during the ASU
Women’s Volleyball Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena.
(Photo by Becca Smouse)

ASU volleyball completed its third and final Maroon and Gold scrimmage in preparation for the scrimmage in Hawaii next weekend.

The team split into two groups to play the first set, which the Maroon team won 25-20. In this set, sophomore opposite hitter McKenzie Willey completed multiple kills and junior setter Bianca Arellano provided assists to her teammates.

Some players switched sides for the next game, and new Maroon teammate junior opposite hitter Macey Gardner impressed with kills throughout, at one point forcing two consecutive spikes through the defense.

Sophomore middle blocker BreElle Bailey contributed both through the serve and playing at the net. Her 6-foot-4 frame allowed her to score some easy points and record blocks for Maroon.

The two couldn’t push Maroon to victory, though, and Gold won the second set 25-20.

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The teams did not change players in the third set, but the squads switched sides and the scoreboard reflected that they changed names. It took until 19 points for Gold to get the victory.

Gold had been down 16-17 before Gardner recorded a kill and then a block to put her team ahead by one. Maroon fell on the next serve.

Junior middle blocker Andi Lowrance prepares to hit the ball during the ASU Girl’s Volleyball Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena. (Photo by Becca Smouse)

Junior middle blocker Andi Lowrance prepares to hit the ball during the ASU Women’s Volleyball Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena. (Photo by Becca Smouse)

“The scrimmage was good,” she said after the match. “We got to see some strengths and weaknesses and things that we need to work on.”

She said an area of improvement is serve receipt. The team is working on a system to provide the setter with multiple options on returning the serve and allowed her to set it to different teammates.

Gardner also said the flow of the game needs to be hashed out, and that occasionally the Sun Devils would go through ruts at some points and gain momentum during other parts.

“If we can just level that off to where it’s just back and forth and kind of control the game, that will help,” she said.

Head coach Jason Watson said the scrimmage wasn’t as clean as he would’ve liked.

“I thought it was a scrimmage,” he said hesitantly.

He said that the location of the sets needed improvement. There were instances were the volleyball was visibly off-target and not be in the precise location the hitters needed.

Like Gardner, Watson also said serve receiving wasn’t as crisp.

Sophomore libero Mia Mazon said the team worked a lot on serves and receiving them over the offseason, and it’s becoming a strength of the team. They’ll continue working on serves and serve receipts.

Mazon is one of the three liberos looking to replace graduate Stephanie Preach as defensive specialist. The other two are sophomore Genevieve Pirotte and freshman Halle Harker

“I like the work of all three of them,” Watson said.

Watson said that Harker has stood out and may be “a little bit ahead of anyone else.” He added that Pirotte has been playing well, though, and he liked what he saw from Mazon during the scrimmage.

“It’s nice to have a core and nice to have options,” he said.

Reach the reporter at Logan.newman@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman