ASU women's volleyball falls to Cal in four sets

The Sun Devils have lost 12 straight games and remain winless in the Pac-12

Meeting for the second time this season, the ASU women’s volleyball team (10-14) took on the Cal Bears (13-10) Sunday.

In the opening set, the Sun Devils got off to a rough start allowing the Cal Golden Bears to go on a 3-0 run to start the set. The Sun Devils were finally able to get things going after a kill by senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro, however the majority of their points in the set were earned from errors. 

Freshman outside hitter Griere Hughes came into the match, after not playing in Friday’s match, and helped the Sun Devils cut their deficit to within 10 at one point. 

The Devil’s attempted to spark a comeback late in the set with kills by Okaro and Hughes, however, following miscommunication on the court, the Sun Devils would not prevail. Cal took the first set 25-14.

The Sun Devils came out strong in the second set, at one point going on a 4-0 run with three straight kills coming from Hughes. Once the Devils took that lead, they never looked back, only allowing the Bears to get within one point toward the middle of the set before a kill by Hughes and an ace by senior libero Halle Harker would pull them away. 

The Bears would mount a comeback late in the set after three errors on the Sun Devils side would allow them to cling to life. It would be Okaro’s set winning kill that would keep the Bears from stealing the second set. The Sun Devils won 25-22.

Coming out of the break, the Sun Devils would start off strong with two back-to-back kills from Okaro and Hughes. The third set would be a battle of runs. 

The Bears would begin by going on a 6-0 run at the beginning of the set with three of their points coming off of errors by Hughes. 

The Sun Devils would then go on a run of their own with kills by Okaro, senior outside hitter Isabel Miller and junior opposite hitter Peyton Grahovac to tie things in the middle of the set. The set would go back and forth throughout with the Bears holding a small lead over the Devils entering the final moments of play. 

Okaro would attempt to keep the Devils alive, but a kill by freshman outside hitter Mima Mirkovic would lead the Bears to victory, taking the set 25-22.

Entering the fourth and final set, the Bears began with a 5-0 run. The Sun Devils would fall into a 8-1 hole before slowly pulling themselves out of it. 

As the set led on, it was not the kills that pulled the Bears away, but the errors on the opposing side. 

With a disorganized offense, the Sun Devils would be unable to get any sort of momentum going. They scored 11 points in the final set, over 70 percent of those points coming off of errors from the Bears. With the inability to get any sort of offensive play going, the Devils would fall 25-11.

The Sun Devils have now lost 12 straight games and remain winless in the Pac-12. 

Grahovac spoke on the strong performance in the first set.

"I think it was the position we put ourselves in, and we went for the strong shots, high hands," Grahovac said. "We just were smarter with the ball and being aggressive, and it made all the difference."

Acting head coach Carlos Moreno spoke on the frustrations.

"We all have a job to do as coaches and as players. We didn't do our jobs," Moreno said. "When we don't do our jobs, we don't meet the standard that we need to play at the level in order to survive in the Pac-12."

Harker said that the team needs to change their mindset moving forward. 

"I think kinda what we all feel is that it doesn't have anything to do with volleyball," Harker said. "It has to do with our internal state of mind and our mindset as a team and individuals. I think moving forward, we just have to regroup as a team and we have to hold each other more accountable during practice and even in the locker room."

The Sun Devils hope to turn things around as they travel back to California to take on No. 19 USC on Friday Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. before heading across town the next day to take on No. 13 UCLA at 7 p.m.

Reach the reporter at or follow @KellyB1459 on Twitter.

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