The frustration can surely be felt. Despite losing the first two sets, Arizona State (7-6, 0-2 Pac-12) gave No. 13 Oregon (11-1, 2-0) all it could handle. Ultimately, the Ducks beat the Sun Devils in 3-2 (25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 23-25, 15-7) going to five sets — like most of Arizona State’s losses have been this season.
“We’re bummed,” setter Ella Snyder said. “We work so hard to get that fifth set and we put everything we have out and then it doesn’t go our way, which is such a bummer. I know our team is not going to give up, we’re going to keep taking these teams and we’re going to fight every single time.”
Oregon quickly took the first two sets, but a lot of it had to do with the Sun Devils inefficiency on offense. The trend has hurt Arizona State and a big reason behind the constant need to win the fourth set to stay alive in games.
“We’re going to have to be better at executing. Coming out stronger and executing better,” Arizona State coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “...“I really disliked our first two sets, we missed six serves in set one...We talked about the pressure serving and we missed six serves in our own gym to start a match. That’s unacceptable, there is no excuse for that. It shouldn’t take us that long to get going. We practice in the mornings… we know what it takes to be awake and ready to go, so we’re going to have to come out stronger.”
Arizona State battled back to win the third and fourth sets. The Sun Devils saw their hitting percentage go from .128 and .03 in the first two sets to over .250 in the next two sets. Iman Isanovic, Clarie Jeter and Marta Levinska all had at least 13 kills.
However, Oregon’s Brooke Nuneviller wasn’t going to let the Ducks leave Tempe without a win. The All-American had six of her game-high 22 kills in the final set.
Tomasevic knows something needs to change for Arizona State to win more of these final sets. She wants a player to step up for the team and take control similar to what Nuneviller did.
“I need some time to reflect on this game, but I know for sure that in these fifth sets we’re going to have to find somebody who’s going to take us home,”Tomasevic said. “We’re going to have to find Brooke Nuneviller on the other side. She came on the court and said, ‘I’m taking this home,’ and she did. We don’t have that person. Nobody wants that responsibility and somebody’s going to have to step in those shoes. It can’t be anybody else but people on the court, so we’re going to have to find that person.”
The Sun Devils head to the Bay Area next weekend to take on Stanford and Cal.