Pac-12 play officially got underway as the Arizona State Sun Devils dropped their first match against the Arizona Wildcats in straight sets 24-26, 18-25, 22-25 on Thursday night.
“It’s very disappointing,” sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic said. “Especially because it’s a home game and it’s against Arizona. Our biggest rival. It’s not a good feeling to start like this.”
The first set was tight the whole way. The Sun Devils had the early advantage behind a strong focus by sophomore setter Nicole Peterson to spread the offense. However, the Wildcats would battle back with redshirt junior middle blocker Jade Turner leading the way. She would finish the first set with three kills on seven attempts.
Sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic led the way for the Sun Devils notching five kills on 11 attempts without an error. She would finish the match with 14 kills on 37 attempts with four errors.
The second set saw a sluggish turnaround for ASU as the serving and passing went downhill. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and never looked back. Junior outside hitter Tyler Spriggs aided the jump with three straight kills to open the set.
The Wildcat defense was tough to surpass as the Sun Devils could not find the court. Over the course of the evening the Wildcats dug 65 percent of the balls that came across the net.
Senior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke would finish one dig shy of a double-double for a match to lead the Wildcats.
“Our serve was easy,” ASU head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “Which made their passing really good. Their setter had an easy job tonight. She could set the ball anywhere and leave them with a one-on-one block.”
The third set seemed to start tilted in the Wildcats favor once again as they jumped out to another early lead. This time it was 6-2 before Tomasevic called an early timeout.
The Sun Devils would battle to tie the set at 20 before giving up a costly point on a rotation error. They would also miss a crucial serve which led to set point for the Wildcats, who would finish the set off on the next rally.
Freshman middle blocker Megan Beedie was a bright spot for the Sun Devils to build off. She converted nine of her 12 swings for kills and hit with a .750 clip.
Senior libero Halle Harker continued her defensive domination for the Sun Devils while notching 21 kills through the three sets. However, as a team the Sun Devils only dug 45 percent of the balls that came over the net.
“We can’t have people coming on our court passing better than us,” Tomasevic said. “That’s like shooting free throws better than the home team.”
ASU would also miss five serves and record zero aces, while Arizona struck with seven aces to one service error.
“When they went for it they scored,” Tomasevic said. “When we went for it, it found a way to go out. You would have thought we played in their gym not our gym.”
The combination of Dahlke and Spriggs proved too much for the Sun Devils. The two Wildcat outsides combined for 20 kills on 57 attempts with only six errors.
Next up the Sun Devils will host the No. 7 Washington Huskies on Sunday at 1 p.m..