ASU women's volleyball drops sixth straight match in a loss to USC

The Sun Devils lost 3-1 to the Trojans, falling to 0-6 in Pac-12 play

The Sun Devils came into tonight’s match having yet to pick up a win in conference play, their latest loss coming at the hand of UCLA on Friday night.

ASU came out strong in set one, taking it by a score of 25-19 over the No. 15 USC Trojans.

But the Trojans seemed to wake up after the first set, winning the next three sets over the Sun Devils to take the match 3-1, handing ASU their sixth straight loss.

Head coach Sanja Tomasevic said that despite the recent losses in Pac-12 play, she feels that the team is still improving.

“Believe it or not, I think we are getting better ... I really do,” Tomasevic said. “If we go back to the preseason right now and play all those teams, we are not losing those two games. We’re not playing any close games.”

Tomasevic said the reason the Sun Devils have struggled so much in conference play is primarily the level of the opponents that they are playing.

"They are all top-20 ranked teams – they are ranked that high for a reason…” Tomasevic said. “We knew that was going to happen – we didn’t know we were going to lose, but we knew life was not going to be as nice and peachy as it was in preseason.”

The Sun Devils were led by junior middle blocker Carmen Unzue, who reached a new career high with 13 kills on the match. Her pervious career high was 12.

“I definitely try to enjoy every single play, cause that’s what it is about, and try to bring energy to the team,” Unzue said. “I think that is what finally worked out.”

Senior libero Halle Harker led the team with 22 digs, while sophomore setter Nicole Peterson picked up 22 assists on the match after subbing in for freshman setter Shelbie Dobmeier at the start of set three.

Tomasevic said assistant coach Carlos Moreno spoke to Dobmeier in between sets two and three, but the freshman was unable to put the past behind her to start set three.

“We were down 6-1, and that’s when I made the decision to put Nicole in,” Tomasevic said. “She (Dobmeier)looked like needed a minute to take a breather, even though we discussed that.”

Harker said despite the loses she can see the team improving on the little things.

“We’re focusing on certain things after games that we’re losing,” Harker said. “Those things that we’re working on in practice, we’re seeing a return in what we’re working on.”

The Sun Devils held a small lead in set one, which fluctuated between one and two points until the Trojans eventually tied it up at 10 apiece.

ASU then took off and turned their slim lead into a four point cushion, which forced the Trojans to call a timeout.

The first set was highlighted by errors as the Sun Devils committed six on the set, while the Trojans had 11 of their own. 

USC jumped out to a 3-1 lead early in set two and maintained their lead by winning several long rallies early in the set.

Eventually, the Trojans'  lead grew to 14-8, forcing a Sun Devil timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

After the timeout, the Sun Devils went on a 5-2 run and cut the lead to one point, forcing USC to take a timeout of their own.

The Trojans came out of their timeout strong, putting distance between themselves and the Sun Devils. Despite another ASU timeout, USC held on and won set two win by a score of 25-19 evening the match at one to one.

The Trojans came out of the break on fire, going on a 6-0 run to open set three.

After the run, Tomasevic made the call to sub in Peterson for Dobmeier. 

The Trojans expanded on their lead, going up 10-3 to put the Sun Devils away before they even had a chance. However, ASU refused to give up, and at one point, was within four points of the Trojans.

ASU made some noise after a timeout, thanks to some USC errors, but ultimately the Trojans were unaffected by the Sun Devil timeout and took the third set 25-19, taking a 2-1 lead over the Sun Devils.

In set four, neither team would give an inch, until the Sun Devils went on a run, fueled by Trojan errors, to take a 10-6 lead.

The Sun Devils tried to hold off USC, but slowly, the Trojans recovered, tying the score at 17-17. The two teams continued to trade points as the fourth set progressed, and the Trojans were finally able to take their first lead of the fourth set 19-18 over the Devils.

The Trojans never gave the lead back to the Devils, and they continued to climb back in the set, eventually taking the set 25-22 and the match 3-1.


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

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