ASU volleyball edges Idaho State in opener
EL PASO, Texas -- Arizona State volleyball opened its season with a rollercoaster 3-2 win (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 29-27, 16-14) over Idaho State on Friday night.
The Sun Devils opened the tournament by dropping their first set, 20-25, only to come back for a quick win in the second set, 25-17, tying it at 1-1. Despite numerous rallies in the third, ASU’s late comeback was not enough in an eventual 22-25 loss.
The fourth set saw 18 ties before the Sun Devils came out ahead 29-27 to force a fifth and deciding set. ASU earned the win by closing out the match 16-14 victory in the fifth frame.
"This afternoon, we found a way to win. It is going to be that way as our young athletes become more accustomed to college volleyball,” head coach Jason Watson said. “Each match will be a battle. We showed considerable character, something we will continue to develop this season."
In the opening set, three freshmen got their first career starts: Whitney Follette, Macey Gardner and Allison Palmer. The Sun Devils worked from behind in the early points, using momentum during Stephanie Preach’s serve to push ASU ahead at the 7-6 mark. Senior Erica Wilson then put up back-to-back-to-back points, forcing ISU into a timeout at 14-16.Idaho State answered with a small run to extend its cushion and force the Sun Devils into a timeout at 17-21. The Bengals used kills from Breanne Van Every and an ace by Lori Mendenhall to end the set at 25-20.
In the second set, ASU worked a 7-3 lead to start off, its earliest lead of the day. Freshmen Follette and Gardner worked in tandem to stretch the Sun Devil lead to 11-5. The Bengals did not go away however, closing the gap to 14-13. Gardner went on to finish the night with 16 kills and 11 digs en route to her first career double-double. Palmer also had 50 assists and 13 digs.
Unwilling to relinquish the lead, the Sun Devils were strong at the net ,which was showcased at 22-15 with consecutive block assists by Nora Tuioti-Mariner and Pinson followed by Follette and Gardner. ASU took the set 25-17 to tie the match at 1-1.
The third set offered six ties before ISU claimed a 10-6 lead to start. ASU rallied within two points of the lead at 15-17 and 17-19. After a pair of kills from Wilson, followed by her third ace of the day, ASU made it a 21-22 game with a timely block assist from Pinson and Tuioti-Mariner. The Bengals took a 2-1 lead in the match after taking the frame 25-22.
Blocks aided the effort in the fourth frame, with the Sun Devils picking up three block assists by the 5-4 mark. After the 5-5 point, neither team could grab sustained footing on a lead as the set had 18 ties that went down to the wire until 27-27. A kill by Gardner, set up from Jenny Teslevich, then gave ASU the 28-27 edge. A Bengal attack error sealed the set for ASU, 29-27, and helped extend the match to a fifth set.
In the final set, ASU worked mostly from behind until a four-point streak with kills from Pinson and Gardner and a pair of aces from Wilson gave the Devils a 7-5 advantage. Keeping the momentum, ASU held the Bengals to three points to their five for a safe 12-8 lead. Like the fourth set, neither team could pull ahead for very long. Idaho State came back to tie it at 14-14 before two errors doomed the Bengals, as ASU picked up the set 16-14 and the match 3-2.
Wilson finished with a team-best 18 kills, Gardner with 16 and Pinson with 12. Pinson also connected for a club-high eight block assists.