Senior opposite Oluoma Okaro had a career-high 30 kills, but it was not enough to down No. 7 Washington (12-1, 2-0 Pac-12) as the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-4, 0-2 Pac-12) dropped the match in a tight five sets 25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 17-25, 10-15 on Sunday afternoon.
“Now we know what we are capable of,” Sun Devil head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “I think we got better since Thursday and that showed in parts of the game.”
It was the Sun Devils who struck first in the match grabbing the first two sets, including winning the second set pretty handily.
Freshman outside hitter Griere Hughes led ASU through the first set along with Okaro. Each player would notch five kills in the first set alone.
Okaro’s pistons kept firing into the second set as she moved herself into double-digit kills. Her connection with sophomore setter Nicole Peterson seemed unstoppable while the Sun Devils were en route to an easy second set victory.
But this was the set the Huskies would slow down ASU. Washington came out in the third set behind a balanced attack of senior outside hitters, Courtney Schwan and Crissy Jones. Schwan would have two important aces in the set to keep the momentum on the Huskies’ side.
The fourth set flashed the Huskies ability to play shut down defense. Also, their ability to score points in ways other than the attackers. The Huskies were able to handle the Sun Devils in the fourth set with a combination of great serving, passing and blocking.
“They had a really big block,” Okaro said. “I think the system that we’re running is a really fast spread-out system. If we execute it correctly, then the block shouldn’t have time to double-block us. It worked early on.”
Blocking was a huge component for the Huskies and it was evident as freshman middle blocker Lauren Sanders would finish the match with nine blocks to lead her team.
The fifth set was tight to start off as the teams would tie it up five points in. However, the depth of Washington would prove to be too much for the Sun Devils and the Huskies’ block slowed down the ASU attack to hang on to a five-set victory.
Okaro did not get much help with the offense after the first set. She boasted a hitting percentage of .414; however, as a team the Sun Devils hit .176. Hughes and sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic would both record double-digit kills, but both had five hitting errors and hit with an under-.100 hitting percentage.
The Sun Devils dug more balls than the Huskies, with 84 digs compared to the Huskies 73. However, the Huskies recorded 10 more blocks than the Sun Devils.
“You guys saw how we played in the first two sets,” Tomasevic said. “We passed 65 percent as a team. When we pass like that our offense is a lot easier to run. We can hit the ball from every seal in there.”
Next up, the Sun Devils go on a tough trip to Northern California to face the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears.