After spending their entire non-conference schedule on the road, the Arizona State volleyball team (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12) found their groove back at home on Thursday night, beating the rival Arizona Wildcats (10-3, 0-1). This was the Sun Devils’ first win against the Wildcats since 2016.
Led by senior Ivana Jeremic and junior Claire Kovensky, the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats in dominating fashion (25-20, 25-16, 25-19). Jeremic finished the night with a .600 hitting percentage, a career-high for the senior. She also finished with 11 kills. Meanwhile, Kovensky led the team in kills with 14.
“Claire has been outstanding for us in the preseason,” head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “She had been super fun to watch her play. Not only hitting, but in serving, blocking, and hitting.”
Jeremic may have finished with a new career-high, but she was also pressured by Arizona’s attack. She was the target of many serves by the Wildcats, putting pressure on her to pass. She said this turned out to be the key to her successful night.
“I know when we pass good we can run our offense,” Jeremic said. “While focusing on passing, I didn’t put much pressure on my hitting. I didn’t worry about hitting at all.”
The match was competitive to start, with multiple lead changes throughout the first set. A late push from Andrea Mitrovic and the Sun Devils secured the set. Then the Devils never looked back. Mitrovic finished the set with a clutch block and the final kill.
The second set was dominated by ASU and its balanced offensive attack. The Devils jumped out to an 18-8 lead, and they finished the second and third set with ease in all facets of the game.
After battling injuries throughout the preseason, the Devils were back to full-strength for the first game of Pac-12 play. Tomasevic got the chance to showcase her team, which she claims is the deepest she has had during her time in Tempe.
“It’s taken a while to get this going,” Tomasevic said. “It has taken us some time to get the kids going. I was very persistent on what system I want to teach. This process is just building up, getting everyone to buy in.”
Tomasevic used a rotation of nine players throughout the match, including two setters, Callie Jones and Nicole Peterson. The two seniors combined for 34 assists.
“This is our offense and we have to do whatever we can to run it,” setter Callie Jones said. “We are really trusting each other on the court and it is translating into our game. Everybody wants the ball, which is awesome.”
The Devils will head to Southern California this weekend in a match with the UCLA Bruins (6-4). The Bruins are coming off of a win as well, as they beat No. 24 USC in their Pac-12 opener. First serve will be on Sunday at noon.