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ASU Volleyball: Sun Devils secure season sweep of Arizona in five-set thriller

Territorial Cup points

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

In the final regular season game of the season, Arizona State took down Arizona to secure the season sweep in a five-set thriller (25-18, 11-25, 26-24, 20-25, 17-15) in Tucson on Saturday.

The Sun Devils (17-14, 9-11 Pac-12) had not beaten Arizona (15-17, 5-15 Pac-12) in Tucson since 2007, the same year they last completed a season sweep over the Wildcats.

ASU started hot, winning the first set behind a balanced offensive attack. Andrea Mitrovic finished the first set with five kills and a .455 hitting percentage. Although the senior led the team in kills, the outside slowed down and finished with a .250 hitting percentage.

The second set was not as successful for the Sun Devils, as the team managed to score only 11 points while posting a .000 hitting percentage. Arizona State played well on defense, but let the second set slip away after the Wildcats put up a hitting percentage of .435.

ASU head coach Sanja Tomasevic’s squad bounced back in the third with their best offensive set.

Seniors Jada Burse and Claire Kovensky led the team to a set in which the Devils posted 18 kills. Despite the sloppiness, as the team also finished with eight errors in the set, the Devils won by two points in overtime.

“It wasn’t a pretty win, but we knew the importance of this game,” Tomasevic said of the win. “We have never been in this situation before where a match could get us in or out of the NCAA tournament. I’m proud of the girls and how they were able to execute at the end.”

The fourth set was a back and forth battle, but the offensive effort of Arizona outside hitter Paige Whipple gave the Wildcats the edge. The junior led the Wildcats in kills with 24.

Arizona’s fourth set victory sent the match to a deciding fifth set. The Sun Devils’ balanced offense gave Arizona State the edge, as outside hitters Burse, Kovensky, Mitrovic and Ivana Jeremic all provided big kills in the set.

After a kill from Arizona tied the match at 15, two straight errors from the home team gave the Sun Devils the edge in the match.

It was the offensive attack that gave ASU that edge. Mitrovic led the Sun Devils with 19 kills, as well as seven digs and two blocks. Two other Sun Devils reached double-figures in kills as well, as Burse had 16 and Kovensky recorded 10.

Another key moment in the contest was an ASU challenge in the fifth set after Arizona had appeared to win the match. Tomasevic placed a challenge on an ASU swing that just tipped off the finger tips of a Wildcat at the net.

The swing was originally called out on ASU, but after review, it was overturned. It allowed ASU to receive new life, and they took advantage of the opportunity.

Among other headlines, senior libero Courtney Leffel is now in eighth place in the record books for digs in a single season at ASU with 566.

She passed both Stephanie Preach and Christy Nore. She is one dig away from breaking into the top-five for digs in a career at ASU. Leffel also had her 15th match with 20 or more digs with 22.

Leffel wasn’t the only Sun Devil to make an impact on defense, though, as freshman Kennedi Boyd continues to impress in the middle. She finished with four blocks. Setter Callie Jones added to the effort too, with 12 digs on top of her team-high 25 kills in a double-double effort.

The Sun Devils now wait for Sunday to find out where they will play next, as the team awaits its NCAA Tournament fate. The selection show is on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. MST live on ESPNU.