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ASU volleyball remains undefeated after beating Washington at 50th anniversary celebration

ASU women’s volleyball took the match-up against Washington their first weekend home in front of a roaring crowd of five decades worth of alumni

The ASU volleyball team celebrates the win against Washington at Mullett Arena on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 in Tempe. ASU won 3-1.

While commemorating the program's 50th anniversary, the Sun Devils defeated the University of Washington 3-1 to end the celebratory homestand. Despite their streak of seven straight sweeps ending after losing the first set, ASU continues their reign as undefeated underdogs with a 14-0 record on the season as they head further into the Pac-12 competition. 

To open up the game, ASU dropped the first set 25-22 to Washington. ASU battled all the way through, making it the closest score of the game, tying six times in the set.

In the second set, the Sun Devils managed to bounce back, tying the game 1-1 after winning 25-19. With all that struggle during the first set, ASU managed to come back out with a fresh headspace. 

"Once we knew how we wanted to play after we got talked to by JJ, we kind of just pulled ourselves together," senior middle blocker Claire Jeter said. "We locked in, and at that point, it was easy for us to come back once we didn’t play like we were scared of losing but playing our game." 

The Sun Devils continued their spark, taking the following two sets with the same final score of 25-16, making that their first win over the Huskies at home since 2018.

ASU currently stands on top of the Pac-12 as the best serving team and shocked Washington, the second-best serving team in the conference, with some of their best passing and serving performances of the season. 

“Washington is a great serving team," Graduate libero Mary Shroll said. "We were passing really well tonight, and that just puts a ton of pressure on them when we just keep siding out and keep staying consistent. It just makes it hard to win."

ASU had some solid offensive moments from many players and a killer defense. 

Four players reached double-digit kills: junior outside hitter Geli Cyr with 10, Jeter with a season-high of 11, and senior outside hitter Roberta Rabelo with 10. The fourth was back-to-back Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, senior opposite hitter Marta Levinska with 19 kills and 10 digs. 

Levinska led her team in kills, had her first double-double of the season, and is now 13th for career kills at ASU. Shroll led the team with 14 digs, making this her fifth match in a row with double digits. 

Lastly, senior setter Shannon Shields had 49 assists, making that her eighth match in her career with over 40 assists and the fourth this season. She also made solo history, reaching and passing 100 kills with the two she made this game, making it 101 in her career. 

Mullet Arena was taken over by 50 years' worth of ASU women’s volleyball alums in a ceremony. After the first set, they all took the court, basking in the applause and recognition from the fans and staff surrounding them.

It was a special moment for head coach JJ Van Niel and his players. They want to represent all the history in their season and show the value of a community. 

Shroll had an extra unique experience as some alumni were her previous coaches growing up. 

"It was exciting to see them all again," Shroll said. "They've got me where I am today. It's just awesome. Leaving a legacy and playing for all there was before us and all there is to come is always our goal."

With this win, the newly 25th-ranked Sun Devils now bear to face third-ranked Stanford, following up with California Berkley later this week. 

"It was really special," Van Niel said. "You're going to have the rest of your life with this whole group. That's powerful for later in life because you need to lean on someone. You've got a support group, and it doesn't have to be just from your team. It's also from your alum. It’s a community, and having that is important."

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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