ASU volleyball wins Sheraton Invitational
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona State volleyball team claimed its third tournament title of 2012 when it outlasted Gonzaga 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-11, 25-13) on Saturday night to win the Sheraton Invitational.
The Sun Devils improved to 11-2 overall at the event by beating Villanova (3-0), UC Riverside (3-1), Florida Atlantic (3-0) and Gonzaga.
Macey Gardner was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sheraton Invitational, her fourth tournament honor of the year. Alexis Pinson and Stephanie Preach were also named to the all-tournament team.
ASU extended its win streak to four matches after a sweep of Florida Atlantic that put the Devils in the tournament title match. In their first match on Saturday, the Sun Devils breezed past the Owls 25-11 and 25-13 in the first two sets. FAU kept pace in the third set, but ASU was unwilling to let the victory get away, finishing off the sweep with a third-set score of 25-20.
In the tournament finale, ASU went up 6-1 in the opening frame with the help of early kills from Macey Gardner, Nora Tuioti-Mariner, Erica Wilson and Alexis Pinson. A five-point streak allowed the Zags to gain ground and eventually overtake the Devils 11-10. An ace by Tuioti-Mariner tied it at 15-all and started a five-point run for ASU that forced Gonzaga into a timeout with ASU leading 20-18. The margin stretched to 23-19 before final attacks from Pinson and Tuioti-Mariner gave ASU the 1-0 lead with a first set score of 25-20.
The two teams went back and forth at the start of the second set, with Gonzaga eventually taking a 13-11 lead. ASU's Bethany Jorgensen then tied it at 13-all after subbing in and serving up a timely ace. With the teams continuing to trade points, ASU fell behind 19-21, leading to a timeout. Though kills by Gardner and Pinson brought the Devils within reach, ASU stalled late in the set and eventually fell 25-23.
The third set saw Gonzaga go to an early timeout after ASU had taken a 9-4 lead with the help of four kills and an ace by Wilson. Back-to-back kills from Gardner and a pair of Palmer service aces made it 14-6, with the Devils unwilling to give the Bulldogs any wiggle room. Picking up the pace, ASU extended its lead 23-10 behind heavy hitters Wilson and Gardner to take a 2-1 match lead with a final score of 25-11.
After an initial tie at 4-4 in the fourth set, the ASU defense took over, getting back-to-back-to-back blocks to make it 8-5. Wilson then added her second and third aces before Gardner went off for five points, with assists from Palmer, to make it 17-9. ASU shut the door on the set from there, pulling away for a 25-13 win to take the match and the tournament crown, the Devils' third of the year.
ASU Sheraton Invitational All-Tournament Team
MVP: Macey Gardner, Arizona State
All-Tournament Selections: Alexis Pinson, Arizona State; Stephanie Preach, Arizona State; Savannah Blinn, Gonzaga; Amanda Vialpando, UC Riverside; Jelena Jovanovic, Florida Atlantic.