ASU women's volleyball comes up short against No. 7 Washington Huskies

The Sun Devils were unable to capitalize on a 2-0 set lead, falling to 0-2 in Pac-12 play

Competing against a nationally ranked opponent is always a tough challenge for an unranked team – especially a team that is rebuilding.

This was exactly the situation the Sun Devil volleyball (10-4, 0-2 Pac-12) team found itself in on Sunday as it fell 3-2 against the No. 7 University of Washington Huskies (12-1, 2-0).

ASU started out hot, winning the first two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-17, putting the Huskies on upset alert early on in the match.

ASU head coach Sanja Tomasevic said that the key to her team’s early lead was its passing percentage which was at 65 percent in the first two sets.

“When our passing was high like that, (sophomore setter) Nicole (Peterson) has an easy job and it is hard for the opponent to read what is happening,” Tomasevic said. “It’s like two teams showed up, next three sets we don’t pass as high.”

Tomasevic said that if the circumstances were different, the Sun Devils would have won this match in three sets.

“If it were in some easier conference, that match would be over in three,” Tomasevic said.  “But we are playing the number seven team in the country, and it’s a pretty tough conference.”

Senior libero Halle Harker said that the team just did not execute well enough for the win in sets three, four and five.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with us being up 2-0 – it just had to do with us not executing properly,” Harker said. “But we weren’t executing as a team.”

Harker said the team needs to work on improving its execution by remaining focused at practice, which she thinks will carry over to games.

One of the few positives for the Sun Devils was senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro tying her assistant coach Macey Gardner for the ASU record for kills in a match with 30 on the day.

Okaro said her connection with the team’s primary setter on the match, Peterson, was the key to her success.

“I think the setter and I have a really good chemistry,” Okaro said. “So that really helped keep it going.”

Despite the chemistry, the Huskies were able to mount a three-set comeback over the Devils.

In set three, Washington grabbed the early lead in set three, jumping out to a 4-2 lead over the Sun Devils.

The Huskies then ran away with the set, going up by nine over the Sun Devils and winning the set by a score of 25-17. 

In the fourth set, ASU jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the Huskies, putting the No. 7 team back on their heels.

However, the Huskies kept it close and did not let the Sun Devils lead grow to more than two or three points at a time.

Washington was eventually able to work its way back up tying the game at 11-11, and then taking a 12-11 lead over the Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils continued to falter, falling behind the Huskies by score of 17-15 late in the fourth set and were forced to take a timeout to try and turn around their fortunes.

ASU was unable to slow the Huskies down, as Washington coasted to a 25-point win over ASU which tied the match up at two sets a piece.

This forced a winner-take-all set, which would be played to only 15 points instead of the usual 25.

In the final set, the Huskies took an early lead over the Sun Devils by going on a 4-1 run, but the Sun Devils would not go down easy. 

ASU called a time out and then cut the Huskies lead down to one by going on a 3-1 run, but the Huskies would not relinquish the lead, countering ASU’s run with a run on their own to go up 12-9.

The Huskies then rode that wave of momentum to overcome the Sun Devils 15-10 in the third set, which secured the match.

The Sun Devils will be back in action on Sept. 27 when they take on the defending national champions, No. 4 Stanford University on the road.


Reach the reporter at jzaklis@gmail.com and follow @JoshZaklis on Twitter.

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