TEMPE — The No. 21 Sun Devils chopped down No. 3 Stanford in straight sets (25-16, 25-21, 25-14) for their second win over a top-five program this season (Oregon). The Sun Devil’s sweep over the Cardinal is the first since 1993 and only the second ever.
After Stanford handed ASU its first loss of the season, the Sun Devils (21-3, 9-3 Pac-12) returned the favor and controlled every set against the Cardinal (18-3, 11-1 Pac-12), handing Stanford its first conference loss of the season.
“When you play physical teams, you have to run a fast offense to beat them with speed and we did,” coach JJ Van Niel said about what it takes for an upset. “We managed the game really well. Honestly, we played with reckless abandon.”
His message to the team worked as the Sun Devils jumped to a 10-5 lead in set one, led by opposite hitter Marta Levinska. The lead forced Stanford to take an early timeout, but the Sun Devil momentum continued and ASU extended its lead to 15-6, forcing another timeout by Stanford. Levinska got the Sun Devils to set point before outside hitter Roberta Rabelo finished with the kill.
The Sun Devils and Cardinal fought tight in the second set, which included 13 lead ties and five lead changes. Outside hitter Geli Cyr pulled ASU ahead 19-17 with two kills, forcing a Stanford timeout. Setter Shannon Shields and Levinska worked ASU through the sets final points, with Levinska closing the set with a kill.
ASU took charge in the final and final set, springing to an 11-4 lead after a 7-0 run. Rabelo and Levinska teamed up for a pair of blocks and kills, propelling the Sun Devils to a 16-11 lead. A pair of aces by Cyr moved the Sun Devils up to a 20-11, then Robelo and McLaughlin sealed the sweep.
ASU held Stanford to just .194 hitting, its lowest of the season and 14 errors. The Sun Devils led the match in kills, hitting percentage, points, assists, and aces.
Levinska finished the match with a .371 clip while unloading a team-leading 17 kills while Claire Jeter led the team with three of the teams’ six total aces.
“I think our block was pretty disciplined,” Levinska said. “I think they really tried to go after our hands and that a lot of times made them go out and kept the service pressure on them. I think they had the pressure from us and thought they have to keep service pressure on us too. And I think that resulted in a lot of errors from their side.
Libero Mary Shroll registered 12 digs and helped manage the Cardinal offense.
“I think all week we worked really hard on our out-of-system defense, and that is blockers getting their hips connected and defense playing around that, and I think when our block is there, it makes it so much easier to play defense around them,” Shroll said.
With the win, the Sun Devils eclipsed 21-plus wins for the first time since 1992. ASU has eight matches remaining in the regular season. Its next two are rematches with UCLA and USC, both in Los Angeles.
“It’s one game at a time,” Niel said. “Now we have to go play USC and UCLA in LA but I hope this just adds confidence. At the end of the day, playing sports is about being confident. You can fake trying to give your team confidence, but these are the matches that they get fired up from and take it and realize how good we can be. If we play like that, we can beat anyone.