Many talk about morale wins being meaningless in sports, however, Saturday’s result at Desert Financial Arena might be an indication of things to come for the Sun Devil volleyball program.
Arizona State (2-1) pushed No. 13 Louisville (3-0) to the brink before ultimately falling 3-2 (25-15, 24-26, 25-17, 24-26, 15-11).
The Sun Devils showed resiliency and maturity as a team built on youth and newcomers. In both set victories, coach Sanja Tomasevic’s squad found itself down to set point. Each time Arizona State rallied for three and four consecutive points to swing the set in its favor. Even in the final set that the Sun Devils lost, they were down 9-3 and brought the deficit to as low as three.
Louisville had a better hitting percentage — .295 to Arizona State’s .171 — but that’s a testament to the Sun Devils that nearly upset a team, that was in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament this past spring, without having their best day.
Junior Iman Isanovic (13) and sophomore Marta Levinska (12) led the kill in kills again. True freshman Andi Kreiling, transfers Claire Jeter and Beatrice Badini were in the starting lineup again in their first weekend as Sun Devils making a major impact. Jamye Cox, a graduate transfer from Michigan State, had the ace to secure game four.
Starting sophomore setter Ella Snyder earned all-tournament and looked a lot more crisp in her passing. Annika Larson, the primary libero, is only a junior as well. Cox and outside hitter Maddie McLaughlin are the only two players on the roster that are not juniors or younger.
It was only one weekend, and shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Nevertheless, the Arizona State program seems to be in a good place to open the fall 2021 season. The Sun Devils travel to Lincoln, Nebraska for the Ameritas Player’s Challenge to face Georgia, Nebraska-Omaha and Nebraska starting on Friday.