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Volleyball falls short at home

Ashley Kelty serves against USC earlier in the season at Wells Fargo Arena.(Matt Pavelek | The State Press)

The ASU volleyball team came up winless at home over the weekend, losing to No. 11 Oregon on Friday night 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-23) and dropping another heartbreaker on Saturday night to Oregon State 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10).

The loss to OSU marked the second weekend in a row in which ASU had a 2-1 lead and lost the match. It was also ASU’s fifth straight loss.

“We have to change the way we try to finish games,” ASU senior middle blocker Paige Mittelstaedt said. “I don’t think we understand that we need to just go out there and execute, instead we just kind of o out there and play not to lose. We’ve just got to play to win.”

On Friday night against UO, the Sun Devils (11-7, 1-5 Pac-10) came out sluggish and their timing was visibly off. ASU’s normally stout defense allowed UO to jump out to a quick 7-2 lead in the first set, and the Ducks never looked back.

The ASU offense had its worst performance of the season, hitting a lowly .069 kill percentage, and hitting .031 and .026 in the first two sets.

Errors hurt ASU all night long. The Sun Devils committed a total of 32 errors, and the high-powered UO team took advantage.

The match saw only one tie score, and ASU never led at any point through the first two sets.

ASU made the third set competitive, but in the end,UO was too much.

Junior outside hitter Sarah Reaves led ASU with 11 kills and 5.5 total blocks.

ASU coach Jason Watson said a lack of intensity was the main culprit in the loss to UO.

“One of the things the team tried to do was create some intensity, and what they ended up doing was creating a bunch of noise that wasn’t very specific and wasn’t direction-orientated,” Watson said. “It was just noise for the sake of noise. What I think you need to do is have some direction, and there was no direction.”

The Sun Devils came out the next night with renewed vigor and matched OSU kill-for-kill most of the night. The match saw 41 tie scores and nine lead changes, as both teams blew significant point leads in every set.

ASU came out strong to begin set one and grabbed a 17-12 lead, but the Sun Devils let it slip away as OSU stormed back to take set one.

In the first set, ASU recorded only nine kills, getting many of its points on OSU errors. The Beavers made 46 errors, but ASU wasn’t able to take advantage of them all.

After losing the big lead in the first set, the ASU offense clicked for the first time all weekend in sets two and three. The Sun Devils hit .262 and .433 in those sets to shake off early ties and pull away in each set.

In set four, ASU dug an early hole, trailing 7-1. However, the Sun Devils stormed back to tie it, and the two teams went back and forth until the set was tied 18-18.

But the Beavers quickly scored three points coming out of a timeout and took the set.

In the fifth and final set, ASU blew another lead.

The Sun Devils were up 4-2, and then OSU reeled off eight straight points to put the game away.

“I thought we did so many things well, but these matches come down to some small details,” Watson said. “I felt like a little bit better location here, a little better defensive positioning here or there made the difference. Certainly it’s disappointing the way we came out after game three and created such a hole for ourselves, but we battled back, and I don’t really know how to explain game five.”

Reaves tallied another double-double for the Sun Devils against OSU, finishing the match with 19 kills and 13 digs.

One bright spot on the weekend was the play of true freshman outside hitter Ashley Kastl. She replaced struggling sophomore outside hitter Sofie Schlagintweit midway through the UO match and recorded 20 kills and 19 digs in a match and half.

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