The ASU volleyball team split its matches during the weekend against two top-25 opponents, upsetting No. 21 Washington State 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 15-25, 25-22) before falling to No. 5 Washington 3-0 (22-25, 26-28, 18-25).
The win over WSU snapped an eight-match losing streak for the Sun Devils (12-11, 2-9 Pac-10) and was their second victory over a ranked team this season.
The victory over the Cougars on Friday night was a wild back-and-forth affair that saw 43 ties and 24 lead changes, and ASU pulled out hard-fought victories in sets one and four.
The Sun Devils have struggled all year putting games away, often fighting point-for-point with their opponents before losing in the end.
Friday night, however, the Sun Devils seemed to get stronger the closer the game was to finishing.
In both sets one and four, ASU was tied with WSU 22-22 but was able to reel off three straight points to clinch the sets.
“We continue to just keep working, and we see the progress daily and try to communicate that with the athletes,” coach Jason Watson said. “It’s hard for them unless they get that return in the win column, so it was a very rewarding evening for them, and we’re proud of them for just how much that they’ve worked to get that win.”
Junior outside hitter Sarah Reaves led the way with 19 kills and sophomore outside hitter Sofie Schlagintweit had her best conference game, posting 15 kills and a .286 hitting percentage to be the secondary scoring option ASU had lacked.
Sophomore setter Cat Highmark was on fire Friday night, recording 56 assists and 10 digs for her seventh double-double of the season. The front-row defense was stout all night long, as the team recorded 11 total blocks.
Freshman middle blocker Erica Wilson finished with seven block assists to go with seven kills while senior middle blocker Paige Mittelstaedt recorded 2.5 total blocks and nine kills.
Watson was pleased with the team effort but gave a lot of credit to someone whose offensive contributions are not seen in the box score.
“I thought it was a pretty balanced attack and perhaps even better defensively creating opportunities to turn some things, so credit for that goes to Sarah Johnson,” Watson said of the junior libero. “I don’t think she gets enough credit for the work that’s she’s doing for us.”
ASU took on UW on Sunday afternoon and pushed the Huskies to the brink in both sets one and two, but the Sun Devils couldn’t pull out a set victory.
ASU showed a lot of fight, coming back from deficits of 22-17 in set one and 22-19 in set two to pressure the Huskies.
“I thought for the first two games we kind of matched them,” Watson said. “There are just these details in the Pac-10 you have to stay on task for extremely long periods of time in order to get a set and it’s tough. We had our chances and we just weren’t able to close them out.”
For the second consecutive night, the Sun Devils had multiple players with double digits in kills. Reaves and freshman outside hitter Ashley Kastl each had 13 kills while Schlagintweit contributed 11.
Johnson had 21 digs to help hold the Huskies to a .244 attack percentage, 60 points below their season average.
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