ASU women's volleyball falls to Oregon State in five sets

On senior night, the Sun Devils showed resilience but were unable to prevail

The ASU women’s volleyball team (10-18) welcomed Oregon State (19-9) to Wells Fargo Arena for the Sun Devils' final home game of the season.

The first set began with a sense of urgency for the Sun Devils as their main goal heading into the match was to minimize the Beavers' momentum and prevent them from executing their game plan. The set started off close, with the Sun Devils maintaining a small lead, before freshman outside hitter Griere Hughes lit a spark in their offense, allowing them to go on a 4-0 run. 

The Sun Devils didn't let up, with back-to-back kills by senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro. The Sun Devils pulled farther away from the Beavers, showing dominance on the offensive end. The Beavers fought closely in the the final minutes of the set, but a block by Okaro would allow ASU to get the victory 25-19.

The second set opened with high intensity. Neither team was able to gain a substantial lead early on. That changed once the Beavers went on an impressive 6-1 run late in the set with the help of two kills by freshman outside hitter Maddie Goings and senior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall

The Sun Devils attempted to slow down the Beavers' offensive fire with short rallies by Hughes and junior opposite hitter Peyton Grahovac. However, it would not be enough, as two attack errors and a kill by Goings would end the match with the Beavers stealing the second set 25-17.

Coming out of the break, the Sun Devils started off strong once again with back-to-back kills by Hughes and Grahovac. The Sun Devils showed the same intensity they did in the opening set, at one point going on a 9-1 run filled with kills by sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic and impressive blocks by sophomore setter Nicole Peterson and junior middle blocker Carmen Unzue

The Beavers didn't go down without a fight, cutting the Sun Devils lead to two points late in the period. Peterson and Okaro would respond with kills of their own to extend the lead, but the Beavers would attack once again, going on a 3-1 run and taking a one-point lead.

The Sun Devils gained momentum once again and finished off the Beavers with two back-to-back kills by Hughes and Okaro. They took the third set 26-24, and for the first time since Sept. 24, were able to win two sets.

The fourth set began with the Beavers going on a 4-1 run. The lead would not last long, as two back-to-back kills by Jeremic pushed the Sun Devils ahead by three early in the set. The Beavers would strike back, with Marshall notching in three consecutive kills. 

The set went back and forth late in the period, but the Beavers would go on a 6-1 run to take the fourth set, 25-19.

In the fifth and final set, the Beavers continued their momentum after winning the previous set. Errors by the Devils allowed them to take an early 5-2 lead in this short set. The Sun Devils put themselves in a hole following back-to-back kills by the Beavers.

Okaro recuperated with an important run-ending kill; however, that would not halt the Beavers offensive firepower. Two kills by Okaro would keep the Devils within striking distance, but the Sun Devils would be unable to climb out of the hole, falling to the Beavers 15-11.

Assistant coach Macey Gardner noted the importance of the seniors.

"There was a big weight on their shoulders, naturally, because of the situation that we're in," Gardner said. "They've brought a great sense of consistency with the team." 

"I know we haven't been winning games in conference but I don't think we've been losing games either," Okaro said. "You either win or you learn, and I think we've been learning in a lot of the games we've been losing."

Senior outside hitter Isabel Miller said the main focus for the next few games is playing with heart. 

"I think the biggest word for us is playing with no fear and nothing to lose," Miller said. "This is the last four matches for us, and I just think as a team, it feels like we're almost there."

The Sun Devils continue the tail-end of the season with four road games, the first being against No. 16 Utah on Friday Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. MST.


Reach the reporter at klbroder@asu.edu or follow @KellyB1459 on Twitter.

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