SPOKANE, Wash.- Arizona State volleyball (6-0) finished a perfect 3-0 in the Gonzaga Invitational to take the championship, its second tournament crown in two weeks after a sweep of host-team Gonzaga Saturday night.
The 6-0 start also marks the best start under Head Coach Jason Watson since joining the team in 2008. The noteworthy streak also constitutes the first 6-0 record since 1995 when the Sun Devils, led by Patti Snyder-Park, made an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.
Macey Gardner was named Most Valuable Player after leading the offense with 63-kills throughout the tournament, which included a 20-kill performance to help seal the win over Gonzaga Saturday night. Setter Bianca Arellano also grabbed her first honors with the Sun Devils after being named to the All Tournament Team with 108 assists, 28 digs, and 13 total blocks.
Whitney Follette, BreElle Bailey, and McKenzie Willey also combined for more than 20 kills with the players snagging eight, seven, and six respectively. Stephanie Preach led the team with 16 digs. Shannan McCready also had seven digs in the first set, leading to many second chance points in the first set.
Game 2- The first set would begin on a Gonzaga run, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead following two ASU errors until a block error from Gonzaga put the Sun Devils on the board.
ASU would have to battle from behind much of the frame. Two consecutive blocks from Gonzaga’s Paige Folger and McKayla Ferris put the Bulldogs up 17-12 prompting a timeout from coach Watson. The Sun Devils utilized the timeout to its full capacity, responding with the triple threat of Follette, Bailey and Gardner evening the score at 23-23. Gardner in typical MVP fashion finished with the set kill.
Gonzaga would not go down without a fight, giving the Sun Devils quite the challenge in the second set. The score would be in Arizona State’s favor through the majority of the match, with Gonzaga right on their heels until the very end.
Both Bailey and Follette would be pivotal pieces in the remaining minutes of the game. Follette started things off for the Devils with enormous kills, which aided the Sun Devils to avoid elimination and even the score at 26. A kill from Bailey would set the Sun Devils up with the serve going into set point, which was followed up by a clutch block assist from Bailey and Binns that closed the set.
ASU continued with the momentum going into the final frame and not allowing Gonzaga to take the lead at any point in the match. The Sun Devils would end the frame with a final score of 25-16.
"Today, each team really pressured us in areas that made us uncomfortable,” head coach Jason Watson commented. “That comes as teams are better able to prepare. I liked our resolve and determination. This is a group that likes competition. This weekend, we had to compete and play good over extended periods of time. As such, we got better. Our athletes deserve all the credit for an great weekend of volleyball."
Game 1-Macey Gardner led the team with 22 kills, while freshmen BreElle Bailey and McKenzie Willey closed with 10 and 6, respectively. Mercedes Binns would end the day with .667 on four kills and seven blocks. Stephanie Preach and Jenny Teslevich closed the match with 18 and 12 digs each, respectively.
In the second game of the Gonzaga Invitational, the Sun Devils held the Rebels to a mere .045 hitting percentage and only allowed 29 kills (25-17, 25-15, 25-18) all while hitting a season-high .343 hitting percentage as a team. ASU also hit a frame-high .457 in the opening set. The Sun Devils also had less errors (10-24) and more digs (53-43) in the match.
The Sun Devils now turn their sights to the Illini Classic in Champaign, Illinois to take on Youngstown State Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT followed by back-to-back matches against No. 18 Illinois (10 a.m. CT/8 PT) and No. 6 Texas (5 p.m. CT/3 PT)
Great weekend of volleyball by @SunDevilVB. Good Job. Good Job. I'm going to get a Frosty.— Jason Watson (@sundevilvbcoach) September 8, 2013