CHAMPAIGN, Ill.- Arizona State volleyball (8-1) dominated the defending NCAA Champion and second-ranked Texas 3-0, handing the Longhorns their first sweep of the season in the Sun Devils finale match in the Illini Classic Friday, Sept. 13.
For the second time in Arizona State history, the Sun Devils came out with the win atop a top-2 team, the last being in 2010 over then-ranked No. 2 Cal where the Sun Devils ousted the Golden Bears in a five-set thriller, and Head Coach Jason Watson was there for it all.
The victory also constitutes the first win for the program since the Sun Devils and the Longhorns first went head-to-head in 1981. Texas was 4-0 entering the series before Friday night.
“I think we learned today just how thin the margins are in college volleyball,” Watson commented about the win. “The ability to play good volleyball over a long period of time, is hard. Our team was able to play well today.”
“I continue to be amazed at the resilience and desire this team shows towards competition. We have a lot of work left to do this season but right now we are all extremely proud of the work we have done to date."
Macey Gardner recorded her first double-double of the season with a team-high 17 kills and ten digs in route to the 3-0 win. Freshman Kizzy Willey followed her noteworthy performance against the Illini for a second consecutive ten-kill game and attaining the lone solo block of the game for the Sun Devils. Whitney Follette came up big for the Sun Devils in essential situations with a four service aces, four kills, and three block assists.
Setter Bianca Arellano also shined in the match, recording her third double-double on the year with 32 assists, 13 digs and six kills to top it off. Arellano now has 319 assists so far in her Sun Devil career.
ASU was able to hold Longhorns’ kill-leader Bailey Webster to seven kills, while UT’s top scorer Haley Eckerman had team-high 21 kills on the day.
The set began with ASU jumping to the early lead, with a kill from Willey and first serving ace from Follette forcing a Texas timeout with the Longhorns trailing, 9-6. Follette came out of the timeout with and would clinch two more service aces to give ASU an 11-6 lead. The spark from Follette would ignite a 7-2 run, pulling away with the lead that led to Arizona State taking the first set.
The second set would be trying for both sides of the net, with 16 ties occurring throughout the frame. Looking Gardner would slam eight of her 17 kills in the frame with Arellano and Willey coming up with three. The kill-filled set would come down to the wire, all tied up at 22-22 following a kill from Eckerman. Doing what she does best, Gardner stepped up and slammed down two-straight kills for the Sun Devils, setting the Sun Devils up for set point. Texas would attempt to close the gap and force ASU to continue the match before a kill from Gardner shut it down, giving ASU the 2-0 lead heading into the final match.
In the final frame, ASU would have Texas biting at the heels throughout the opening minutes with Texas taking the lead two times before consecutive monster blocks from Willey, Bailey, and Follette began the Sun Devil shut out against the Longhorns. After a final timeout from the UT bench, respective kills from Bailey, Arellano, Willey, and Gardner let the Sun Devils up 23-21. Two-straight errors from the Longhorns signed, sealed and delivered the match win for the Sun Devils.
The thrilling win over the Longhorns sets up the stage for Arizona State’s first home game of the 2013 season. Arizona State returns to Tempe to host the Arizona State Sun Devil Classic in a three game series beginning with Cal Poly on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. PT. Saturday’s matches begin with Alabama State at 12 p.m. PT followed by a primetime game against Louisiana-Monroe at 7 p.m. PT.
Catch the match point that gave the Sun Devils the win over the No. 2 Texas Longhorns!
UPSET ALERT!!!!!! Your Arizona State Sun Devils SWEEP the defending national champions, 3-0!— Sun Devil Volleyball (@SunDevilVB) September 13, 2013