Volleyball fights for playoff spot vs. UW, UA

Thirty-one matches down, two to go.

The ASU volleyball team plays its final two games this week with their postseason hopes still in question.

The Sun Devils will need victories over No. 4 Washington on Wednesday and rival UA on Friday for ASU to keep its chances alive for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

To stay in the hunt, ASU will need a big upset on the road against the Huskies (22-5, 13-5 Pac-12) on Wednesday night. This will be the first matchup between the two schools this season. The Sun Devils are currently on a 15-game losing streak against the Huskies, dating back to 2004.

Washington has made life tough on Pac-12 hitters with its elite ability to block. The Huskies rank No. 1 in the conference in blocks, averaging 3.27 per set. Senior middle blocker Amanda Gil leads the conference in blocks per set for the Huskies at 1.74.

Three of the top 10 servers in the Pac-12 play for the Huskies. Senior outside hitter Kylin Munoz, freshman outside hitter Cassie Strickland and freshman setter Katy Beals all rank in the top 10 for service aces per set. Munoz (0.31), Strickland (0.29) and Beals (0.26) rank No. 1, No. 7 and No. 10, respectively.

The Sun Devils conclude the regular season Friday when UA comes to Tempe on Senior Night.

Friday night will be a big game for the ASU volleyball team, but will be even bigger for senior outside hitters Sarah Clause and Erica Wilson, who will play their last game in the Wells Fargo Arena.

Clause has been unable to play for the Sun Devils all season after being sidelined with an injury before the start of the season.

Wilson has been fantastic for ASU over the course of her career, racking up 1,082 kills up to this point, good for No. 12 all-time. She’s also having a fantastic season, ranking No. 6 in the conference in kills per set (4.06) and No. 2 in the conference in total kills with 479.

The Sun Devils will need another solid performance from Wilson and the rest of the team if they plan on taking down the Wildcats on Friday.

Just in front of Wilson is teammate and freshman outside hitter Macey Gardner, whose 529 kills on the season is the most in the conference.

Helping the two attack at a high level is freshman setter Allison Palmer. The rookie has found a rhythm with the hitters, ranking No. 1 in the conference in total assists with 1,334 and No. 2 in assists per set with 11.60.

The territorial rivals last faced each other in Tucson in September to open up their conference schedules. The Wildcats won the match 3-1.

Reach the reporter at talopez3@asu.edu

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