A win in Los Angeles against a ranked UCLA team (21-4, 14-3 Pac-12) would’ve meant a lot to Arizona State’s (14-14, 7-10) postseason aspirations. The Sun Devils in stretches played well enough to win Friday. However, the No. 13 Bruins dominated the end of each set onto a 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-19).
In the first set, Arizona State had a leads of 19-14 and 20-16, but UCLA’s 9-2 win really stopped a good train of momentum the Sun Devils had. The attack never got going — .161 team hitting percentage compared to UCLA’s .276 — as Iman Isanovic was the only Sun Devil with more than five kills.
Despite the offensive struggles, the Sun Devils kept the next two sets close and even led late into the set. Although, the inability to close plagued them again.
After a UCLA service error, the Sun Devils had a 16-15 lead in the second set. The Bruins won the second game due to a 10-2 run. UCLA then used a 8-1 run to close out the match following a kill by Isanovic that put her team up 18-17 in the third set.
Arizona State came into the contest 51st in RPI and squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The loss means the Sun Devils most likely need to go undefeated in their last three games, which is more than doable. Arizona State starts with USC (12-14, 8-9, Sun Devils lost 3-2 to the Trojans in October) on Sunday. The Sun Devils also have Oregon State (4-23, 2-15, Arizona State hasn’t played the Beavers this season) and Arizona (15-13, 7-10, Arizona State lost 3-2 back in September). A .500 conference record and the quality wins the Sun Devils have certainly would give them a chance if they run the table.