TEMPE, Ariz.—The No. 22 Arizona State volleyball team (13-5, 2-4 Pac-12) looks to snap its three-game losing skid, as it hosts No. 1 USC and UCLA this weekend at Wells Fargo Arena. The match against the Trojans is set for Friday at 8 p.m. MT, while Sunday’s contest with UCLA will start at 11 a.m. MT. Both matches will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
About the USC Series
No. 1 USC (16-1, 6-0 Pac-12) brings a conference-leading 10-game win streak into the weekend, most recently topping the Oregon schools in straight sets on the road. Against the Beavers, Samantha Bricio led the way with 10 kills and Hayley Crone added 17 assists. Against the Ducks, Ebony Nwanebu recorded 11 kills and Crone added another 20 assists.
About the UCLA Series
UCLA split its road matches last week, falling to Oregon in four sets before outlasting Oregon State in five. Against the Ducks, Kelly Reeves posted a double-double in kills and digs with 14 and 18, respectively, and Megan Moenoa recorded 29 assists. In the win over the Beavers, the Bruins won the first, third and final sets, and Kartsa Lowe led the way with 18 kills.
Last Time Out
Over the weekend, the Sun Devils dropped a pair of road matches to the Washington schools. Against Washington State, the Sun Devils bounced back from a set-one loss, taking sets two and four to force the deciding set, but were unable to come out with the win, dropping the final frame, 15-9. At Washington, ASU kept things close, but were unable to close out each of the three sets in the 3-0 loss.
Heating Up The Polls
In the most recent AVCA poll, Arizona State was ranked at No. 22 in the nation. The Sun Devils have been ranked every week since Sept. 16.
ASU’s move to No. 15 in the Sept 30, 2013 poll constitutes the highest ranking since 1995 where the Sun Devils, led by Patti Snyder-Park, made it into the Sweet 16.
ASU’s debut at No. 18 in the polls was the first top-25 ranking since Nov. 4, 2002.
Stifling Sun Devils
ASU leads the league in opponent hitting percentage with a low of .131.
In last week’s contest with Oregon State, the Sun Devils held the Beavers to a scant eight points in the second set, which marks the lowest ASU has held a squad in a set this season.
Racking Up The Kills
Macey Gardner has racked up 251 kills so far this season, and leads the league in kills per set with a clip of 4.74. Gardner also sits in second in league in points per set with an average of 5.09. Additionally, both marks rank Gardner nationally: eighth in kills per set and 16th in points per set.
Setter Bianca Arellano has posted eight double-doubles this season, one off tying conference leader Madi Kingdon of Arizona. Arellano posted a season high 54 assists on Oct. 11 at Washington State.
2013 Sweep Count
On the season, the Sun Devils have swept their opponent en route to each of their 13 wins. Notably, the then-unranked squad defeated then-No. 2 Texas in straight sets at the Illini Classic on Sept. 13.
Attacking The Warhawks
Arizona State’s blistering attack percentage of .374 in the win over Louisiana Monroe during the ASU Marriott Invitational (Sept. 20) ranks as the fifth-highest performance at ASU in the rally-scoring era (2001).
ASU Opens with Program-Best Start Since 1997
The Sun Devils began the 2013 season with a 7-0 start, the program’s best since Patti Snyder-Park’s 1997 squad posted the same record.
Starting with A Sweep
The Sun Devils recorded a sweep in each of its first seven wins this season, marking the longest stretch of wins without relinquishing to start a season during the rally-scoring era, which was instituted in NCAA Volleyball in 2001.
Arellano Named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week
Bianca Arellano was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following her performances in the Illini Classic. The sophomore recorded 13-digs, 32-assists for her fourth double-double performance in the 3-0 sweep of then No. 2 Texas Longhorns. Arellano also added a season-high six kills in the match win.
Arellano, a Phoenix-native newcomer to the Sun Devils, also posted 40 assists and 20 digs in the five-set setback to host team No. 14 Illinois, after leading ASU to a win by totaling 29 assists. Arellano average 4.90 digs and 9.18 assists per set, as ASU went 3-1 in the Illini Classic.
Gardner Named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week
Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday, Sept. 9. Gardner, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., was named the Most Valuable Player of the Gonzaga Invitational where she averaged 5.94 kills and 7.06 points per game, while hitting .367 over three matches. Gardner had three-consecutive 20-kill outings, including 22 in a 3-0 win over UNLV. She hit .452 in that match, committing just three errors.
Ranked Teams vs. Watson
Head coach Jason Watson has grabbed nine wins over ranked teams in his tenure at Arizona State. Most recently, the Sun Devils topped defending national champion and then-No. 2 Texas, 3-0, at the Illini Classic on Sept. 13. This marks the second time in Watson’s tenure that ASU has defeated the No. 2 team in the country, as the Sun Devils defeated Cal, 3-2, during the 2011 season.
Top-25 Wins Under Watson
Oct. 25, 2008 at No. 24 Oregon State.........W 3-0
Sept. 25, 2009 No. 14 UCLA* ...................W 3-0
Oct. 15, 2010 No. 5 USC* .........................W 3-1
Oct. 16, 2010 No. 10 UCLA* .....................W 3-1
Nov. 24, 2011 at No. 2 California* .............W 3-2
Nov. 2, 2012 No. 6 USC*............................W 3-0
Nov. 21, 2012 at No. 5 Washington*...........W 3-1
Aug. 31, 2013 No. 24 Wichita State ……..W 3-0
Sept. 13, 2013 No. 2 Texas ……………….W 3-0
The Sun Devils closed out the non-conference slate at home, hosting the Marriott Invitational, Sept 20-21. Arizona State picked up straight-set wins over Cal Poly, Alabama State and Louisiana-Monroe, and Bianca Arellano was named tournament MVP. Stephanie Preach and BreElle Bailey were named to the All-Tournament Team.
ASU earned its first marquee win of the year to close out the Ilini Classic, defeating the defending national champion and then No. 2 ranked Texas in straight sets.
In the second tournament, the Sun Devils trekked to Spokane, Wash., for the Gonzaga Invitational, Sept. 6-7. ASU defeated Seattle and UNLV in straight sets before executing the sweep of host-Gonzaga. Macey Gardner was voted tournament MVP for the second time this season while Bianca Arellano was voted to the All-Tournament Team.
ASU opened its 2013 season with a tournament win over the Utah Valley La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational, defeating Utah Valley and North Dakota State before upsetting then No. 24 Wichita State, Aug. 30-31.
Macey Gardner was named Tournament MVP, while Stephanie Preach and BreElle Bailey were named to the All-Tournament Team.